Pancake Day is upon us for another year and whilst we gorge ourselves on a sweet or if your palate so desires, savoury treat, perhaps it’s a good time to reflect on how the pancake and Pancake Day, came about.
Surprising as it sounds, the pancake dates back to prehistoric times and archaeological evidence shows it to be the first and most widely eaten cereal food. Today and worldwide we recognise the humble pancake in all manner of shapes and sizes; even in the UK the form of the pancake differs in size and structure from Scotland through to England and Wales. The scotch pancake is very similar to the American pancake, smaller than the English and generally served with jam and cream or butter and traditionally devoured in delicious glory at teatime. In Wales the pancake takes on a number of identities, sweet or savoury and can be known as crempog or ffroes and all other names in between. It’s not only the name which seems subject to change in Wales, the Welsh pancake differs considerably in form, the welsh have a wide variety of pancakes, ranging from a pancake much like the American, stretching out to something that resembles a crumpet. Finally we come to the English pancake, which is traditionally sprinkled with sugar and lemon, although there are many other toppings to choose from, commonly golden syrup, chocolate spread or bananas and honey are also used. In form, the English pancake resembles a French crêpe, although the English pancake may not be as thin or as large!
In the UK we associate pancakes with Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of lent. Religiously, Lent is the 6 week period leading up to Easter Sunday and traditionally a time for Christians in preparation through pray, penance, repentance and self denial. However, in today's modern society it is often a time for people to give up something which they consider to be a vice - be it the giving up of chocolate, or easing back on their indulgence of rich and luxurious foods or perhaps a time to focus the mind and give up bad habits.
So what, you may ask, do pancakes have to do with lent? Well, Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day is the last day before lent begins, proving it is the last day to enjoy our vices before giving them up for the period of 6 weeks. We all bare the vice of enjoying a bit too much of what we fancy! Pancakes are the perfect way to rid ourselves of temptation for the weeks ahead by using up all those guilty foods in the cupboard. Being made up of fat, sugar and butter and then, drizzled, smothered and covered in all maner of delightful delicacies make pancakes one of the world’s longest standing and favourite ambrosias.
So enjoy today and feast yourself silly on pancakes, for a little inspiration we've sourced some fabulous recipes to get your saliva glands going:
Try something with a European flair with a German cheese and bacon pancake or for those with a sweet tooth, gorge yourself on a fluffy honey pancake and go mad, for its the beginning of a long 6 weeks of abstinence from anything which will make your mouth water.