Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Happy Pancake Day!

Today is Shrove Tuesday, the last day before Lent begins, and is traditionally marked by indulging in foods that can not be eaten for the next 40 days.  In the US, this day is commonly known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday, and is best known as the occasion for a massive parade and festivities in New Orleans involving consumption of alcohol, flashing of breasts, and collecting strings of shiny plastic beads.  The indulgent food of choice is King Cake, frosted in the traditional colors of purple, green, and gold.

In the UK, this day is called Pancake Day, and people celebrate by making and eating pancakes (which are more like what we would consider crepes).  If you don't want to make them from scratch, you can buy ready-made pancakes at your local supermarket.   
Pancake Day display at Marks & Spencer
Pancake races are also held all over the country.  Frying pan-wielding participants don an apron or a silly costume and run the course as they flip a pancake in the pan.  Legend has it that this tradition originated in 1444 in Olney, England when a housewife was making pancakes and heard the church bells calling everyone to the service, so she ran out of the house in her apron and headscarf, still carrying the frying pan with a pancake in it. 

Last year, we arrived in London for our house-hunting trip on Pancake Day, and enjoyed a full pancake breakfast at the Virgin arrivals lounge at Heathrow airport.  This year, Josh and I celebrated Pancake Day a couple days early by making crepes for breakfast on Sunday morning (or a week early by having Valentine's Day dinner at IHOP).  I don't think we'll be able to give up pancakes for the next 40 days, though.  Well, maybe we can...  We'll just eat waffles instead.

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