Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Pancake Day?


There is something amiss with Shrove Tuesday in this country. There is something seriously wrong with the way that we celebrate the start of Lent. In the remains of New Orleans, people are celebrating like crazy, as if their sheer combined energy can pump life and love back into that battered old Southern lady, the glint slowly coming back into her eye. In Rio, there's sheer chaos, a riot of tits and ass, a party spurned on by the gurning face of Maradona; revelry that puts us all to shame. So, how do we here celebrate the end of freedom and the onset of denial? We make pancakes. Like I say there is something seriously wrong.

The celebration of Pancake Day and Mardi Gras are fundamentally the same thing. Mardi Gras, literally "Fat Tuesday", the day before Ash Wednesday is a day where you'd traditionally use up all the remaining eggs and fat in your household before the Lenten fast. One last blow out, before days of frugality and prayer. Of course, pancakes where the just the kind of thing to make if you've got a glut of eggs and butter knocking around. How that transformed into the spectacle of Mardi Gras in one place and the only vaguely remembered festival of Pancake Day in another is anyone’s guess. Probably the weather.

Anyway, that soft, warm and slightly sour flavour mixed with lemon and sugar is quite singular. The crispy outside and ever so slightly yielding middle is something that I really should make more often, because they are so damn simple. I remember my Dad making them with a large slab of pork fat on the end of a fork that he would swizzle round the jet black pan and then pour in a generous measure of batter, his expert eye making sure that there were no holes in the sizzling surface, all with one expert flick of his wrist. You'd get them deposited on the place with a sprinkle of sugar and a squeeze of lemon or a dollop of Nutella if he was feeling generous.
Tonight, I kept it simple. I looked up the recipe in Delia, she always a sure winner in a situation like this. A pancake and a dollop of ice cream before the long march to Easter starts. What am I giving up for Lent? Hmm, have to think about that and get back to you in the morning.


Sam said...

i like it just the way it is,
pancakes taste much better than king cake.

Andreea said...

it's a little late now here over the channel, but i sure love your blog; will come back for some more island insights (tea, oh and stilton?) :)

Anonymous said...

Nice! I am jealous. I ran out of milk and was just too lazy to go to get some. I cannot be French and not love les bonnes crêpes! Reminds me of childhood meals! Before I even knew about Mardi-Gras et le carême!

Anonymous said...

sam, i totally agree. a friend of mine made king cakes for some customers. she tweaked the recipe (basically a cinnamon danish) and it looked quite good without frosting. but the lady insisted on purple, green, and gold frosting. it looked like an acrylic paint set had puked all over it.

monkey glad, enjoy the pancakes. i'm going get sick silly on jambalaya and beer. happy mardi gras

Liz said...

I had absolutely no idea about the origins of "Fat Tuesday". Or at least I had forgotten it pretty solidly until you reminded me of it. Very interesting.

I like your site- I plan to check back often.