Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Let Them Eat Pancakes!

Today is Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras --whatever you call it. Some people even call it "Pancake Day" as tonight's traditional meal for many will be pancakes. Why, and where did this come from? That's what I wondered when we first moved to our Atlanta neighborhood and heard about a Shrove Tuesday Pancake Dinner at the local Methodist church. That church soon became our own, and I learned so much more about the traditional Christian calendar. Growing up in a small town where most people were Baptists, I had no idea what Lent was and that Mardi Gras was tied to the liturgical calendar. Like many holidays, its roots are tied to early Christian traditions which were blended with pre-Christian traditions.

Pancakes for Fat Tuesday.

Mardi Gras literally means "Fat Tuesday" in French. It's not just one day, but rather a celebration that starts on January 6, the Twelfth Day of Christmas, also known as Three Kings Day or Epiphany, a celebration of when the Wise Men (or Magi) found baby Jesus. Essentially, the season of Mardi Gras, known as Carnival in other parts of the world, is a last hurrah before Lent. Ash Wednesday, the day after Mardi Gras Day, marks the beginning of the Lenten season of fasting and repentance. The word "carnival" comes from the Latin carne vale - which means "farewell to the flesh." Early Lenten fasts called for abstaining from "flesh meat and all things that come from the flesh." Carnival was in essence the last time to indulge in worldly, "fleshy" excess that must be sacrificed in preparation for the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ.

Now, back to pancakes ... on Fat Tuesday everyone would clear their cupboards of all the fat, eggs, sugar and dairy that were forbidden during Lent. A meal consisting of pancakes, syrup and bacon was the perfect way to use it up and have a delicious meal. I'll be getting my pancake fix tonight at the community pancake supper, but if I were home, I'd probably be eating pancakes. I love the thought of thousands of people around the world eating pancakes today. If you'd like to join the throngs, here are some great pancake recipes from other food blogs and sites that are sure to please:

Life in Recipes
Cornmeal Pancakes, Life in Recipes
A recipe and a little chicken drama from my friend, Niki. I love pancakes with cornmeal. If you've never tried them, you should whip some of these up!

Pancake Recipes, Two Peas and Their Pod
Bloggers, Maria and Josh, have rounded up their favorite favorite pancake recipes including Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with Blueberry Sauce and Cinnamon Streusel.

Buttermilk Pancakes, Slate 
"You're Doing it Wrong" columnist L.V. Anderson argues that you can't make pancakes without buttermilk. I tend to agree.

Honest Cooking
British Pancakes, Honest Cooking
A great article and recipe for Shrove Tuesday British-style pancakes by writer and blogger, Ruby Moukli. Apparently, Pancake Day is quite the occasion in Great Britain.

Whether you are eating pancakes this evening, going out for a night on the town, or just doing your usual thing, Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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