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Shrove Tuesday is the day in February or March immediately before Ash-Wednesday. This day is celebrated with eating pancakes before the lent. What is it? Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. Only a small number of people today fast for the whole of Lent, although some maintain the practice on Ash Wednesday and Good Friday.
Shrove Tuesday was the last opportunity to use up eggs and fats before embarking on the Lenten fast and pancakes are the perfect way of using up these ingredients. What a good occasion to eat pancakes!
There are so many different ways you can enjoy your pancake weather you have a traditional thin pancake with sugar and lemon as a topping or a fluffy American-style pancake or even with a savoury filling like cheese or mushrooms. All of them taste very delicious.
A British Tradition – The Pancake Race?
For anyone who has never had the pleasure of a pancake race before, here are the basics.
Generally, it is a relay race between teams, with each team equipped with a frying pan with a pancake in it. Each team member runs the length of a track, flipping the pancake along the way, then handing the pan to their team mate when they reach the end. The second team member then runs back along the same track, flipping the pancake as well, and this is repeated two, four, six or however many times depending on the size of the team. Sounds fun doesn’t it? Who knows maybe you will be racing next year?
How to cook pancakes?
110g plain flour
Pinch of salt
2 large eggs
200ml semi-skimmed milk mixed with 75ml water
First of all sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl with the sieve held high above the bowl so the flour gets an airing.
Now make a well in the centre of the flour and break the eggs into it. Then begin whisking the eggs using an electric whisk or a balloon whisk – incorporating any bits of flour from around the edge of the bowl as you do so. When the mixture starts thicken, gradually add small quantities of the milk and water mixture, still whisking (don’t worry about any lumps as they will eventually disappear as you whisk).
When all the liquid has been added, use a rubber spatula to scrape any elusive bits of flour from around the edge into the centre, then whisk once more until the batter is smooth, with the consistency of thin cream.
Now melt the butter in the pan. Spoon 2 tablespoons of it into the batter and whisk it in, then pour the rest into a bowl and use it when needed to lubricate the pan, using a wodge of kitchen paper to smear it round. Now get the pan really hot, then turn the heat down to medium and, to start with, do a test pancake to see if you’re using the correct amount of batter. I find 1¾ tablespoons (35mls) about right for the Delia Online Frying Pan.
It’s also helpful if you spoon the batter into a small coffee cup so it can be poured into the hot pan in one go. Hold the ladle so that the base is very close to the bottom of the pan then pour in.
As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip it around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter. If you have any holes in it, add a teaspoon of the mixture just to fill them in. It should take only half a minute or so to cook; you can lift the edge with a palette knife to see if it’s tinged gold as it should be.
Flip the pancake over with a pan slice or palette knife – the other side will need a few seconds only – then simply slide it out of the pan on to a plate. Overlap the pancakes as you go on a plate fitted over simmering water, to keep them warm while you make the rest. (Or if you are freezing them stack them with a piece of baking parchment between them and pop them in a freezer bag).
To serve, sprinkle each pancake with caster sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice, fold in half, then in half again to form triangles, or else simply roll them up.
Serve sprinkled with a little more sugar and lemon juice and some lemon wedges.
What is this tradition in other countries?
In Germany, the day is known as “Fastnachtsdienstag”.
In the Netherlands, it is known as “vastenavond”, or in Limburgish dialect “vastelaovond”, though the word “vastelaovond” usually refers to the entire period of the carnival in the Netherlands.
In some parts of Switzerland the day is called Güdisdienstag. The traditional pastry is “Fasnachtskuchen”.
In Denmark the day is known as Fastelavn and is marked by eating fastelavnsboller.
In Spain, the Carnival Tuesday is named “día de la tortilla” (“omelette day”): an omelette made with some sausage or pork fat is eaten.
In Iceland, the day is known as Sprengidagur (Bursting Day) and is marked by eating salted meat and peas.
In Poland, a related celebration falls on the Thursday before Ash Wednesday and is called tłusty czwartek (Fat Thursday).
In Lithuania, the day is called Užgavėnės. People eat pancakes (blynai) and Lithuanian-style doughnuts.
What traditionally happens in the Lent?
Lent, in the Christian tradition, is a period of about six weeks before Easter. Lent is traditionally supposed to be forty days long although if you count the days exactly between Ash Wednesday and Easter you will notice there are more than 40 Days… That is because the Bible says that Jesus spent forty days in the desert, preparing for his death and resurrection. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. It is more common these days for believers to surrender a particular vice such as favourite foods or smoking. After the Lent, Easter comes and everybody enjoys Easter eggs in all different varieties you can imagine.
Do Muslims have a Lent?
Muslims have the Ramadan which begins on 27th May and ends on 25th June this year. Muslim Families traditionally don’t eat and drink from sunrise to sunset. This time is used to think about life, to pray and to read the Koran it is also the time to take special care about the surrounding field. What about the people who want to practice a Ramadan who live close to the North- or South Pole? Because the sun doesn’t completely set it won’t get dark these people have the opportunity to refer to Mekka’s sunset.
Do Jewish People have a Lent?
Jewish people have different reasons for fasting but they are not allowed to fast longer than 24 hours at a stretch. Jom Kippur is the most important and this is the holiest day of the year in Judaism. In 2018, it will begin on the evening of Tuesday 18th September and ends in the evening of Wednesday 19th September.
During Yom Kippur Jews avoiding the following five actions:
- Eating or drinking
- Wearing leather shoes
- Applying lotions or creams
- Washing or bathing
- Engaging in conjugal relations
As you can see we all celebrate Lent in very different ways. Lent for Christians is a lot more commercialised and in fact people don’t really understand the meaning behind why they give up their favourite food .i.e. chocolate – nowadays it’s just an excuse to eat a dozen chocolate eggs on Easter Sunday. Mmmm … sounds like a good enough excuse.
Every year on the 17th March, Ireland and the rest of world celebrate one of its patron saints, St. Patrick. St. Patrick’s Day is a public holiday in Ireland and the Irish people take that chance to celebrate this public-holiday like no other feast day. Did you know that, ironically, it is believed that St Patrick was actually of Scottish origin? He first visited Ireland when he was taken there as a slave by Irish raiders. Later he escaped from them. After returning home he turned into a Christian and he became a priest and later returned to Ireland to turn the pagan Irish into Christians. His work was to eventually turn all the Irish into Christians or at least that’s what the story says.
RANDOM FACT: Traditionally St. Patrick’s Day weekend was the potato planting weekend in Ireland.
Stepping a little bit back in time
Ireland was first populated around 10 000BC but very little is known about its habitants. In the fourth century BC Celtic people arrived on Irish shores. Also Vikings raided the island for about 350 years in the Irish history until they were pushed out by the Irish King, Muirecan. Not to mention the fact that the Normans also tried to take a grab for Ireland. Basically, everyone wanted a piece of Ireland and fought over it even when the island was under the British Crown.
St. Patrick’s Day in the US
As mentioned at the beginning of this post, St Patrick’s has now become somewhat of a global celebration, with every Irish Pub in every corner of the world ensuring that people can really savour this national holiday the way the Irish would be proud of. Did you know that the Irish build the biggest nationality group in America? At the moment there are about 19 Million Irish people living in the US. They make 8% of the whole population of the United States of America. Many if not most of them came to America during the Great Famine in Ireland in 1845-51. They earned money because of the new industry and the new world. Because of their togetherness they became a huge influence and force among the locals. Despite being far from home, the Irish still made sure that they remembered their roots and ensured they stuck to their traditional St. Patrick’s Day every year. The Irish spirit is infectious and soon enough the American people began to join in on the celebration. Funnily enough, many American’s have no idea who St Patrick is and around 73% of them are unable locate Ireland on a map but they still enjoy joining in on the celebrations anyway!
The “always thirsty” Irish people drink the “Green Beer” excessively on their national day. For those of you who find the idea of green beer bizarre then don’t because it’s just like normal beer but with added green food colouring. After much consumption of such beer you can imagine how the Irish feel the day after… Did you know that the traditional Irish cure for a hangover was to be buried up to the neck in moist river sand? – Perhaps we should skip the greasy fry up and try this too instead!
On St Patrick’s the world is greener. Take Chicago for example, Mr. Stephen Bailey was the first to colour the River running through the city green (this lasts for a whole week!). This tradition is now more than fifty-year-old and is repeated every year – only for a couple of hours though! Many Americans think that this Irish tradition is a little over the top and think that they should keep Mother Nature out of it. Even Irish living in Ireland are jealous of how over the top the celebrations have become in the US.
Celebrations in UK are much tamer – you’ll see a couple dozen of ginger wigs, green jackets, and shamrock hats floating around cities not to mention the odd leprechauns gallivanting about in the UK but nothing as major or ridiculous as colouring the River Thames green. Don’t be too shocked if you see a couple of blokes toasting with a pint of Guinness as early as 9am either and if a few moments later they hobble out putting on their best Irish accent – this is totally normal!! It’s definitely tamer but still joyful so make sure you don’t miss out on the fun on 17th March!
HAPPY ST. PATRICK’S!!!!
If you fancy a drink and an Irish dance meet us at O’Neill’s at 6pm in Bournemouth!