The Versatility of Pancakes

Tuesday 5th March is Shrove Tuesday, which is also known as Pancake Tuesday, but do you know why we celebrate the pancake on this day? Well, here are a few interesting facts for those not so au fait with the tradition.

The expression ‘Shrove Tuesday’ comes from the word shrive, which means to ‘absolve’, and it’s the day immediately preceding the start of Lent, which lasts for 40 days and was typically a period of fasting and abstinence. In more modern times, it’s become common practice to forego a particular food type or even activity – apparently of the top 10 things people will try to give up, coming in at first place is chocolate, followed by social networking including Twitter and Facebook. But in the old days, when proper fasting was the norm, Shrove Tuesday was the last chance people had to use up eggs and fats, and pancakes were the perfect way to do that.

According to Historic UK, the ingredients also took on a certain symbolism:

Eggs: Creation
Flour: The staff of life
Salt: Wholesomeness and
Milk: Purity

So that’s Shrove Tuesday, but did you know that down in New Orleans, Mardi Gras is the French equivalent? Mardi Gras is actually French for ‘Fat Tuesday’, which again refers to feasting and over-indulging before the start of Lent. Established in 1718, New Orleans first began openly celebrating Mardi Gras in the 1730s and by the late 1830s it had evolved into the street processions and festivities we are more familiar with today. But here too, the humble pancake is celebrated, albeit in a far more colourful way.

And if you’re wondering about any kind of Pancake World Record, fear not, because according to the Telegraph, Manchester can lay claim to making the world’s largest pancake – made on August 13 1994, it weighed in at 3,000 kilograms (which is about the same weight as two cars) and it measured 15 metres long!

While I don’t think any of us will be planning anything quite that grand, it definitely is time to stock up on eggs, flour and milk in preparation for next Tuesday. And while we all love a sweet pancake, here at N1, leading South African meat wholesalers, we’re more partial to the savoury variety, so why not aim for something more exciting this year and try out a Hortobágyipalacsinta which is a Hungarian pancake filled with meat, chicken or sausage; and then baked in the oven with a paprika and sour cream sauce. Bon appetite!