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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.
Sometimes I question myself about whether I am making the wrong decision, leaving the place where I have been living all this time… This place that promised me a life that would be a bed of roses but soon I realised that it was a place that offered more than just roses, it offered me a life full of colours.
An experience that has taught me for good or bad, who I am and what I am capable of. This has been my home, I have learned what goes on in nightclubs after hours, that you can be working 16 hours non-stop and also that hotels prepare their buffet as early as 6am!
This has been an amazing adventure, in which I have learned lots of things, like valuing my own effort, learning more about new cultures or customs and acknowledging the importance of my friends, people that become your family abroad and people that I have shared moments with, and have made unforgettable memories from just mere moments together.
Spending a cold night at home surrounded by friends, singing or just watching a movie, feeling the warmth from them, feeling nostalgic for our homes, families and even our own bed… Sharing sad moments, happiness or tiredness, feeling the empathy after a hard and long day at work, looking at your flatmate and suddenly smiling to each other, thinking about how much you need their complicity, about how happy you are appreciating this human connection among friends who have become your family away from home, are all things that I will dearly miss. And now that the time has come to leave, I think again, ‘Am I making the wrong decision?’ Because every person that has walked into my life during this experience has given me a little story, a little lesson…
An experience that, who knows, could be repeated again one day; however it will never be the same. I am leaving part of me in a city that I initially knew nothing about but now I consider it as my second “home”. The streets, parks or even the shops where I buy my bits and bobs have become my every day and even with less than two weeks left to return to normality, it still hasn’t it hit me that this adventure is about to end!
On the one hand, I’m really looking forward to being home, waking up in my bed and leading a comfortable life, but on the other hand I will miss a life full of uncertainty, a life, in which one week feels like an lifetime! Because changing jobs, house, meeting new people or just living unexpected situations becomes a daily occurrence. This has been a city that has filled my experience with many adventures making me a richer individual. But everything has to end at some point, doesn’t it?
Is this the right moment to leave? Again… Am I making the wrong decision? Most of the people I have met here came to this country with the intention of staying less time than what they actually ended up staying. Yes, we all usually end up extending our stay… expecting new emotions, more adrenaline but always when the moment comes to leave, everything seems to be a lot more attractive, you realise that you are happy here even if you’re working 60 hours per week, or arriving at home so tired that your brain can’t even put a sentence together whilst you’re about to get into bed still wearing your work shirt…
However, one of the things that I thought about the most at the time I was making the difficult decision of leaving was that even after working more than I have ever worked in my entire life, this last year has still felt like as if I were always on holiday. Holidays that asked of me to enjoy the experience as much as possible by making the most of my time off to visit different places, join different kinds of activities around the city allowing me to meet new people every week. This experience has opened my mind so much by experiencing other cultures, tasting other types of traditional food and even changing the way I dress (dare I say) and it was at this point that I asked myself whether it would be possible or realistic to always live like this?
As a matter of a fact, going back home has always been synonymous to “going back to your normal routine”. But lots of things that you expect to be same back home have changed and you might feel “out of place” in some situations. However, I intend to continue feeling like I’m on holidays no matter what, because you are not wrong – when you leave an experience behind, it is because you’re about to live another.
Leaving a place that has given you lots of things in such little time is difficult, but I am looking at things from another perspective because if anything this is what this whole experience has taught me. It has taught me new ways of doing things or if I dare say again that it has even made me a more mature, culturally richer and most importantly, more confident, I am more sure of myself than ever before and for this reason I have decided to go back to my country and still be “on holidays”.
After all, ‘life is like riding a bike, to keep your balance you must keep moving!’