Pancake day is the day before Lent, the period of fasting and prayer that preceeds Easter, whereby Christians abstain from something they find pleasurable in order to empathise with Jesus when he was sent to the wilderness to face the temptation of the Devil for forty days and nights.
Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of shriving that Christians used to undergo in the past. In shriving, a person confesses their sins and receives absolution for them. It is also the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use up the foods that aren't allowed in Lent. Although in these more modern times 'giving it up for Lent' mostly often just means chocolate, alcohol or something else we consider a little bit naughty but nice, historically there are many foods that some Christians will abstain from, such as meat and fish, fats, eggs, and milky foods.
The tradition of eating pancakes on Shrove Tuesday began as a way to use up ingredients including butter, milk and eggs that were not supposed to be eaten and would go bad during the period of Lent. Pancakes were a great way to use up these ingredients in one easy and indulgent dish. The tradition of eating pancakes is accessible to many regardless of religion, and the idea of a Pancake Day gets a little more popular every year.
The common British pancake 'recipe' consists of whizzing together eggs, milk and flour, chucking it in the frying pan and pebbledashing the kitchen with uncooked batter in a vain attempt to toss said pancake. When we finally produce something vaguely resembling this circular delight, we generally douse it in lemon juice and sugar and try to ignore the uncooked bit in the middle. Obviously half an hour after the 'fun' of making, tossing and eating pancakes has worn off, the kids start looking around asking 'what is ACTUALLY for tea'?
This doesn't have to be the case. There are literally hundreds of ways to make and serve pancakes, sweet and savoury. Seafood, bacon and mushroom, or my favourite - tuna cheese and sweetcorn. And the sweet possibilities are only as limited as your imagination. Go posh with cherries and kirsch, traditional with banana and chocolate sauce, Little Chef style with ice cream - or, if you are a purist, ok, just sugar and lemon juice!
Concerned about your waistline? Make your batter that much healthier by using wholemeal flour and skimmed milk - top or fill with cottage cheese and chives, or freshly made ratatouille. In sweet pancakes, use stewed fresh fruit with yoghurt or low fat fromage frais. Ease your conscience and ensure each pancake contains at least one of your five a day!
So whether this Shrove Tuesday is for you a precursor to forty days of abstinence or simply sharing in an ancient tradition, here at thebestof Croydon, we hope you have a flipping good time!