Being a Brit living in America there are a few traditions from home that I like to try and keep going..one of them is Pancake Day which was the Tuesday of last week (21st Feb).
Also known as Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day in the UK falls 7 weeks before Easter, and comes before Ash Wednesday, the day before Lent. According to Wikipedia (the source of all reliable knowledge!) Pancake Day is also celebrated in the US, although I haven’t seen much evidence of it in the supermarkets. I saw something on the news about Mardi Gras and Fat Tuesday on 28th Feb – is this the same thing? Maybe some American readers could fill me in and let me know if you also eat pancakes on that day?
From memory, Pancake Day in my house was not so much to do with religion as it was seeing how many pancakes you could eat. The way I liked them was cooked as thin as you possibly could, flipped over in the air if you dared, then rolled up and served with a generous heaping of sugar and freshly squeezed lemon juice. An even more insulin-busting version was spreading them with Tate and Lyle Golden Syrup. I think the closest thing to Golden Syrup here in the US would be Light Corn Syrup. There was something so magical as a small child about sticking a spoon into that big silver and green can of Golden Syrup and eating it (probably not something my older sister who is now a dentist would recommend!).
I don’t know whether all children have an innate love of sweet things but I certainly did. My dad told me that as a kid he used to eat sugar sandwiches – exactly what they sound like – 2 slices of bread with butter and sugar in between! So maybe I inherited it from him.
In my opinion, pancakes are good at any time of year. One fond memory from my years living in North London was the pancake van in Hampstead village called La Crêperie de Hampstead. It made the best pancakes I have ever tasted and always had a queue that stretched right down the road every day it was open.
And of course Pancake Day was only a few weeks away from Easter, when the shops would be filled to the ceilings with chocolate eggs. I still think there is something special about the taste of Easter Egg chocolate, and I would always, despite my parents yearly warnings, eat all of my eggs in one day and never fail to make myself sick.
As a self-confessed foodie, one of the interesting things about living in a different country is the variation of foods and the part it plays in that country’s customs. I recently discovered a couple of the big Farmers Markets in Atlanta and have had great fun exploring the aisles, all filled with food from different continents. My two latest discoveries were Alligator meat and sugar cane. I think on balance I preferred the sugar cane!
(photos from http://www.pigpigscorner.com/2009/06/la-creperie-de-hampstead-london.html)