Happy (one day late!) Shrove Tuesday i.e. the last day before Lent.

For the non-Catholics in the crowd, let me explain.

In the Catholic tradition, there is a 40 day period period in spring called Lent. The traditional purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer — through prayer, penitence, almsgiving and self-denial — for the annual commemoration of the death and resurrection of Jesus, i.e. Easter. Lent always starts on a Wednesday (called Ash Wednesday), and adherents would traditionally shrive (i.e. repent) their sins so that they could enter into Lent with a clean slate.

What does this have to do with food? One of the most common forms of self-denial practiced during Lent is fasting – no eggs, meat, dairy, sugar, rich foods, etc. Therefore the Tuesday before Lent starts is the last day to eat all the tasty things in your cupboard (which is also why Shrove Tuesday is known as “Fat Tuesday!”). Through a 1000 years of practice, the tradition has developed that all that milk, eggs, butter etc (i.e. food that wouldn’t keep for 40 days b/c of no refrigeration) would be turned into yummy pancakes. LOTS of yummy pancakes. (Though some countries substitute other foods for pancakes.)

In honor of Shrove Tuesday, I made savory (i.e. sugarless) pancakes tonight. I used a whole-grain buckwheat flour, almond milk, baking powder and just a little cooking oil. My first few attempts were a little thick and clunky, but I gradually got the knack of making larger, thinner more crepe-like pancakes. In the true “clean out the fridge” tradition of Lent, I made fillings from what I could find in my fridge.

My first pancake was stuffed with Manchego, sautéed red bell peppers, and leftover tika masala chicken. My second attempt was goat brie, asparagus and cajun style sausages. I had also planned on making one with chevre and lox, but I was too full (maybe for breakfast in the morning?).

Pancakes are a snap to make, and a savory version makes a great base for a meal. Use whole grain flour and not too much butter or oil, and you actually have a pretty healthy dinner…. which means I guess I missed the intent of Fat Tuesday!! Oh well, I can always try again next year. 🙂


PS – this “have fun before lent” outlook is also responsible for giving us Mardi Gras and Carnival traditions around the world…
PPS – Today is also National Indian Pudding Day … which is a repeat day on our list. We already blogged about on November 13th, which you can see here.