Fat Tuesday Pancakes
Anybody going to a pancake dinner tonight? I am. Wikipedia has some interesting info on the origins of the pancake dinner and other observations of what used to be called Shrove Tuesday and now —
- In countries of the Carnival tradition, the day before Ash Wednesday is known either as Fat Tuesday (Portuguese, Terça-feira Gorda; French, Mardi Gras; Italian, Martedì Grasso; Swedish, Fettisdagen; Estonian, Vastlapäev), or the “Tuesday of Carnival” (Spanish, Martes de Carnaval; Portuguese, Terça-feira de Carnaval; German, Faschingsdienstag). This is in reference to eating special foods before the fasting season of Lent.
- For German American populations, such as Pennsylvania Dutch Country, it is known as Fastnacht Day (also spelled Fasnacht, Fausnacht, Fauschnaut, or Fosnacht). The Fastnacht is made from fried potato dough and served with dark corn syrup. In John Updike’s novel Rabbit Run, the main character remembers a Fosnacht Day tradition where the last person to rise would be teased by the other family members and called a “Fosnacht.”
- In Hawaii, this day is also known as Malasada Day, which dates back to the days of the sugar plantations of the 1800s. The occupying Portuguese used up their butter and sugar prior to Lent by making large batches of malasada (doughnuts).
- In Iceland the day is known as Sprengidagur (“Bursting Day”) and is marked by the eating of salt meat and peas.
- In Lithuania the day is called Užgavėnės. People eat pancakes (blynai) and Lithuanian-style doughnuts called spurgos.
- In Michigan, especially in the Hamtramck area near Detroit with its large Polish community, Pączki Day is celebrated with pÄ…czki eating contests, music and Polish food.
- In Sweden, the day is marked by eating a traditional pastry, called semla or fastlagsbulle, a sweet bun filled with almond paste and whipped cream. Originally, the pastry was only eaten on this day sometimes served in a bowl of hot milk. Eventually the tradition evolved to eat the bun on every Tuesday leading up to Easter, as after the Reformation, the Protestant Swedes no longer observed a strict Lent. Today, semlas are available in shops and bakeries every day from shortly after Christmas until Easter. The semla is now often eaten as a regular pastry, without the hot milk. The semla is also traditional in Finland but they are usually filled with jam instead of almond paste.
Song of the Pancake Man
by John Edward Everett
I’m the pancake man,
And I do, when I can,
Eat pancakes by the score;
I bake them brown,
And swallow them down,
And loudly call for more.
Can’t say I’m a big pancake lover myself. The rest of the year, I never go near the stuff.