Shrove Tuesday: Pancake Day

We are nearing the end of February, which means lighter nights, slightly warmer sun and Pancake Day! If there is one thing which gets Britain through February and into March, it is the distant prospect of warm, sugary sweet pancakes. Drizzled in syrup, or squirted with lemon, pancakes kickstart a trajectory to Creme Eggs, Easter egg hunts and then to summer!

Pancake day as a central element of British culture actually masks a similar trajectory to summer which is Lent. It is the church who we are heavily indebted to, and it turns out that before Jesus popped into the desert for 40 days to fast, he fancied flipping a good old pancake! It is not quite like that actually. In fact, before the fast, and for the fast to be completed in earnest, all eggs, butter and fat had to be used on the Tuesday, hence Shrove Tuesday. Perhaps, Pancake Day goes slightly deeper than feeling absolutely bloated but still having another one. However, the biblical history becomes even more interesting and enticing. Two days before the fast, Jesus had to give up all meat too. This day too was given a name: Collop Monday, which roughly translates to Bacon Day!

It would seem pancakes are a pinnacle of British culture, with all the frying and flipping. However, we cannot take credit for them, and neither can the bible. Pancakes are actually one of the many inventions of the Romans. Despite humble origins of simple milk, flour and egg,  the world now offers a miasma of pancake variations. Pancakes should even be a symbol of national pride – the French have their crepes (arguably better than English pancakes), the Americans have their stacks, Koreans have an especially decadent and bourgeoisie pancake (who knew a pancake could have such a high status?) and Indians has the Dosa.

So, perhaps have a religious reflection on this 5th March, Shrove Tuesday. This sugary tradition was born from the bible and whether you believe in it or not, it is at least one thing to be proud of in Britain, that we have a day dedicated especially for pancakes. Stock up on some flour, your choice of milk (with new Pea milk on the rise, there may be a few more green pancakes than usual!) and a few free-range eggs. With a Korean influence, you will need to invest in some Caviar, some shrimps and even sprouts (no, we did not leave them at Christmas, they have brought themselves into the new year). Why not also try frying some plantain and grease up some chunks of beef for a Columbian pancake experience.

Oh pancakes, you’re so versatile. Enjoy flipping and remember – technically, Monday is Bacon Day!