As my eldest goes to a German kindergarten, he and his friends will be celebrating Karnival today — going to kindergarten dressed up in their favourite fancy-dress (I think we can expect a fair few pirates, policeman and princesses!).
I love how our family combines the traditions from both our cultures — I think it is providing us with a very rich life and so I cannot let the day slip without what Shrove Tuesday always meant for me growing up …. pancakes!
Quite a few of my German friends, who will join us for pancakes, had never heard of our tradition before so I thought I better check out why it is we eat pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? Although our traditions seem quite different they stem from the same idea. During Lent you would abstain from parties and celebrations and certain foods. From what I can work out, in continental Europe the week before lent starts is all about extravagant celebration (hence the dressing up) knowing that there will be no more celebrations for 40 days. Whilst here in the UK we focus on eating up all the foods in the house that will not be allowed during lent, typically fats, dairy and eggs — hence pancakes were made as they used up these ingredients.
We make thin pancakes — not so fine as the French but not so thick and fluffy as the American. I am a big fan of sugar and lemon on my pancakes but I can have my arm twisted to share a Nutella and banana one — mmmmmm. I’ve never braved making savoury pancakes, I leave those to the experts — my favourite is the cheese and mushroom one that the Le Creperie van in Hampstead makes. If anyone is in Hampstead today you really should pop by the van for one of their crepes — it would be rude not to on Pancake Day!
* Picture from Bowbrick.