“Let the good times roll!” That seems a little far-fetched in the middle of a pandemic. But today is one of the main days of Carnival: Shrove Tuesday. If that name doesn’t ring any immediate bells it might be because you’re used to calling this day something else. In the UK, you’d say Pancake Day. In the US, it’s Mardi Gras!
Catholic celebration before Lent
Carnival is celebrated in many parts of the world. Originating from the Latin carnem (meat) and levare (remove), it signalled the start of Lent, a time of fasting for Catholics worldwide. This celebration, often concentrated on the last days before Lent: Rose Monday, Shrove Tuesday, and Ash Wednesday. They were seen as the last opportunity for feasts before the end of Lent at Easter. Mardi Gras, for those who do not speak French, means Fat Tuesday.
Different cultures adopted different ways to celebrate, but from Venetian masquerade balls to street parades in Cologne and New Orleans, one thing all carnival celebrations have in common is a very hedonistic joie de vivre with some very elaborate costumes. There’s usually music, dancing, food and a sense of community that’s almost infectious.
While we can’t participate in any parades to throw and catch sweets and beads, we can at least bring some of the carnival spirit into our homes by baking some traditional Shrove Tuesday food.
Monja's German Buttermilk Pancake Recipe
- 250 g plain flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 450 ml buttermilk
- 2 eggs
- 1 tbsp vanilla extract
- 60 g unsalted butter
- pinch salt
- Add all dry ingredients to a bowl.
- In a measuring cup, whisk the buttermilk, vanilla extract, eggs and melted butter until smooth.
- Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients by folding it in with a spatula moving in a figure of eight. Attention: Don’t overmix it otherwise you will get dense pancakes.
- Melt a bit of butter in a pan over low to medium heat. When the butter begins to bubble, add a 2/3 of a ladle of the batter to the pan.
- Cook until the bottom is golden brown and the top side slightly bubbles. Flip the pancake and cook until the underside is golden brown.
- I like stacking three smaller pancakes: a pancake, some Greek yoghurt, a few blueberries, a bit of maple syrup and then do the next layer. But my personal Pancake Day favourite is crushed up mini creme eggs that slightly melt and fresh strawberries.