Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Forget your sins and enjoy a pancake

I love pancake day. Any pancake day – and I often decide this special day on a whim as I’m thinking what to do my daughters when they come home for lunch on a Friday, or get up for breakfast at the weekend.

But today is the official Pancake (or Shrove) Tuesday so ‘c’est oblige’ as the French would say.

As most of us know, Shrove Tuesday is the day in February or March preceding Ash Wednesday (the first day of Lent) which is celebrated in some countries by consuming pancakes. In others it is called Mardi Gras – literally meaning Fat Tuesday – and is a carnival day and also the last day of ‘gorging’ before the fasting period of Lent. And of course there are also Switzerland's huge Fasnacht celebrations and carnival processions taking place across the country starting this week.

But did you know that Shrove Tuesday comes from the word shrive, meaning to 'absolve’ yourself from sin. It is observed by many Christians who make a point of self-examination, considering the wrongs they need to repent and what amendments of life or areas of spiritual growth they need to ask God's help in dealing with.

Not being religious, I think we need less of the self examination and considering the wrongs we have all done – jeez, we all feel guilty enough as it is! Let’s just make today’s Pancake Day the day to put it all behind us and look to the future with all its great things to come. I’d rather believe the idea that Pancake Tuesday was originally a pagan holiday in which the Slavs saw the change of seasons as a struggle between Jarilo (god of vegetation, fertility and springtime) and the evil spirits of cold and darkness. Pagans believed they had to help Jarilo fight against winter and bring in the spring. And the most important part of Maslenitsa week (the celebration of the arrival of spring lasted a week) was making and eating pancakes. The Slavs believed the hot, round pancakes symbolized the sun and that by eating them they got the power, light and warmth of the sun.

I certainly prefer the Pagan outlook. Bring on the pancakes and feel the power of the sun. Happy Pancake Day!

Tried and tested great pancake recipes

Easy Peasy Pancakes
  1. Put 100g plain flour and pinch of salt into a bowl.
  2. Make a well in the middle and crack in two eggs.
  3. Slowly add 200ml milk bit by bit, making sure to whisk out any lumps as you go.
  4. Put butter in frying pan until it is sizzling.
  5. Add a ladle of batter, swirl around the pan and cook on both sides until golden.
  6. Serve with a spoonful of sugar and a generous squeeze of fresh lemon and orange.
Nigella’s scrummy American style blueberry pancakes
  1. Mix together 200g plain flour, 2 tblsp sugar, 3 tsp baking powder and ¼ tsp salt.
  2. In another bowl mix 240ml milk, 2 eggs and ½ tsp vanilla extract. Combine the two mixtures and add 2 small ripe mashed bananas.
  3. Put butter in frying pan until it is sizzling.
  4. Add a spoonful of batter (these are much smaller than the traditional pancakes) and while it cooks, press 6 or 7 blueberries into the mixture, nicely spaced out. Flip and cook on the other side.
  5. Serve with maple syrup.


  1. Aaaawww, that made my day! And I didn't even know it is Pancake Day. Why do I only ever learn about them when they're over?

  2. Hi Tamara, so glad I helped to make you smile :) Well, this time there is still plenty of time to enjoy. En guete X