Fat Tuesday ushers in a time of pre-Lent celebration
Shrove Tuesday, better known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, to many is a day special to many Christian denominations as the last day before lent.
Keeping with the day, local church St. Bede Episcopal Church will hold a free pancake supper March 4 at the church located behind J&G Pizza.
“This is a fellowship time to get together to invite the rest of the community – whether it be anyone from the street, other churches or other denominations,” said Priest-in-Charge, Rev. Mary Hassell.
Hassell explained the connection between pancakes and Mardi Gras.
“It’s generally something that Episcopalians do for Mardi Gras. Shrove Tuesday is a time – to put it bluntly – the church has said get as fat as you want because you won’t be able to for the next 40 days.”
The time of Lent, which follows through Easter, is traditionally a solemn observance, characterized by fasting, prayer, penance, repentance, almsgiving and self-denial – harkening to Jesus’ time of temptation in the desert before his ministry.
The Shrove Tuesday calibration, coming from the verb “shrive,” to obtain absolution for one’s sins by way of confession and penance, is not as common in this portion of the South, but traditionally it is an opportunity to use up some of the temptation before Lent. Hence the pancakes.
“There are some foods that we don’t look at being ‘banned’ during Lent anymore, but at the time certain foods were banned during Lent so you ate as much of them as you could the day before. One was eggs. They would fix pancakes to use up all their eggs.”
The custom grew into a time of celebration to the point of excess. A sort of reason to embrace excess and have something to repent for.
According to the Catholic Encyclopedia, “The Church repeatedly made efforts to check the excesses of the carnival, especially in Italy. During the sixteenth century in particular a special form of the Forty Hours Prayer was instituted in many places on the Monday and Tuesday of Shrovetide, partly to draw the people away from these dangerous occasions of sin, partly to make expiation for the excesses committed.
“By a special constitution addressed by Benedict XIV to the archbishops and bishops of the Papal States, and headed ‘Super Bacchanalibus,’ a plenary indulgence was granted in 1747 to those who took part in the Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament which was to be carried out daily for three days during the carnival season.”
Despite the associations with the holiday, the term “carnival” comes from the Latin “carne levare” or taking away of flesh. According to The Catholic Encyclopedia, Shrovetide is very similar to the carnival celebrated throughout greater part of Southern Europe.
“It is intelligible enough that before a long period of deprivations human nature should allow itself some exceptional license in the way of frolic and good cheer,” the Catholic Dictionary explains, adding that there is not any solid connection to Mardi Gras and earlier pagan festivals.”
The source adds that the prohibition of eggs over Lent provides the association with eggs and Easter.
Lent has now taken on a less literal interpretation to many.
“We don’t avoid anything in particular,” Hassell said. “It’s up to each person if they want to avoid something. I try to discourage that and tell them to take something on that God want them to take on.”
She said that good projects for Lent would be going to nursing homes or giving more to outreach programs.
Hassell said that during her time as pastor this is first supper the church as held but that it has held them in the past.
St. Bede’s Pancake Supper, from 6-7:30 p.m., Tuesday, March 4, will include pancakes, sausage, orange juice, milk coffee and tea. The event is free, but donations to be used for outreach programs will be accepted.
Those planning to attend are asked to call 728-4463 for the number attending.
Pancakes of the world
While pancakes are an often under appreciated breakfast menu staple in the U.S., elsewhere the versatile quick bread has a varied an important history. The French see it as a base for savory fare, and while the British tends to keep their pancakes on the sweeter end of the spectrum, they are not limited to breakfast.
Great British pancake
English pancakes have three key ingredients: plain flour, eggs, and milk. The batter is runny and forms a thin layer on the bottom of the frying pan when the pan is tilted. It may form some bubbles during cooking, which results in a pale pancake with dark spots where the bubbles were, but the pancake does not rise.
English pancakes are similar to French crêpes, and Italian crespelle, but are not “lacy” in appearance. They may be eaten as a sweet dessert with the traditional topping of lemon juice and sugar, drizzled with golden syrup, or wrapped around savory stuffings and eaten as a main course.
4oz all purpose flour, sifted
7 oz. milk mixed with3 oz. water
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl with a sieve held high above the bowl so the flour gets a airing. Make a well in the center of the flour and break the eggs into it. Mix it all together. Add the milk and water mixture whilst still whisking (lumps eventually disappear as you whisk).
Melt the 2oz of butter in a pan. Add 2 tbsp of the melted butter into the batter and whisk it in. Put the rest of the butter in a bowl to lubricate the pan, using kitchen paper to smear it round before you make each pancake.
Pour or ladle the batter onto the pan and wobble it about to coat the base, using approximately 2 tablespoons for each pancake.
Brown on both sides and serve hot.
Recipes from the website, “Pancakes of the World.”
Crempog (Welsh pancakes)
Different from the traditional British ‘crepe’ normally eaten on Pancake Day. The pancakes are thicker and slightly risen and cooked on a griddle. A crempog is a Welsh pancake made with self-raising flour, salt, eggs, milk and butter. They are also known as “ffroes” and normally served piled into a stack and spread with butter.
2 oz butter
15 oz warm buttermilk
10 oz all purpose/plain flour
3 oz/ 75g sugar
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
½ tsp salt
1 tbsp vinegar
2 eggs, well beaten
Stir the butter into the warmed buttermilk until melted. Gradually pour the milk and butter into the flour and beat well. Leave the mixture to stand (for a few hours if possible)for at least 30 minutes. Stir the sugar, bicarbonate of soda, salt and vinegar into the beaten eggs. Pour this mixture into the flour and milk mixture and beat well to form a smooth batter. Heavily grease a griddle or hot-stone and heat. Drop the batter, a tablespoon at a time onto the heated griddle and bake over a moderate heat until golden brown on both sides, then keep warm.
Continue until all the batter is used up. Spread butter on each pancake and eat while warm.
A crêpe is a type of very thin pancake (usually made from wheat flour). While crêpes originate from Brittany, a region in the northwest of France, their consumption is nowadays widespread in France and they are considered a national dish, and they are also increasingly popular in North America. In Brittany, crêpes are traditionally served with cider. Crêpes are served with a variety of fillings, from the most simple with only sugar to flambéed crêpes Suzette or elaborate savory fillings.
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup milk
½ cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons butter, melted
In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe.
Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly. Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side.