Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Pancake Day in England

Diana Stanley is a Museum Volunteer studying abroad in Europe until June. She's writing as a Field Reporter while she travels. Follow our blog to receive her updates throughout the coming months. 

By Diana Stanley, Field Reporter

Many people celebrated Marti Gras last Tuesday. Most Catholics and Protestants in the U.S.A. consider "Fat Tuesday" as a day of indulgence before fasting on Ash Wednesday. In the United Kingdom, the people know it as Pancake Day.

I first heard the term "Pancake Day" in ASDA, the British version of Walmart (kind of). My eyes widened in confusion at a large display of Nutella reminding consumers of its deliciousness when paired with pancakes. It was not until Tuesday evening that I appreciated the holiday in its scrumptious entirety. I was drinking tea and hanging out with some local students at their house when they asked if I would like to stay for pancakes. As I almost always accept free food, I accepted their offer.

I should clarify that there is a difference between British and American pancakes. English pancakes are like crepes without fruit. They are thin and large with a sweet batter. After cooking, diners sprinkle sugar and lemon juice (or maybe Nutella!) and then roll it like a Taquito stick. They taste amazing, especially right off the skillet. Everyone had three while a couple history students and I continued an earlier conversation about the first British Afghan War of 1839-40. It made for a perfect evening.

Pancake Day has mostly lost its religious connotations in the UK. Now it is a day to relax and eat a sweet food for every meal with your family. Across the UK, there are other pancake traditions such as Pancake Races where runners compete on foot while flipping pancakes in frying pans. The most famous race is a competition between the House of Commons and the House of Lords. One of my English friends, Fran Evans, said, “I love Pancake Day! It's one of the best days of the year (alongside Easter, Christmas, Bonfire Night and my birthday!).”  Bonfire Night refers to Guy Fawkes Day in November. Fran also told me one year she had a competition with her two siblings on who could eat the most pancakes. They ended up eating over twenty each!

I have fallen in love with this tradition and I think I will take it home with me to the United States. In the meantime, I will try my hand at pancakes and perhaps experiment with Nutella toppings...

Until next time and my tales of Stratford-on-Avon, this is Field Reporter Diana Stanley signing out.

P.S. If you want a decent recipe for pancakes, the BBC has one here.

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