One of the many great benefits of having a great kitchen is being able to use it all year round for the many different occasions that occur over 12 months. One such occasion is Shrove Tuesday – otherwise known as pancake day.
As families gather in their kitchens around the country to enjoy a flat, batter-based cake or two, we posit a few questions:
How much do we actually know about pancake day and the food we consume to celebrate it? What hidden facts regarding its history are tucked away waiting to be discovered? How is it observed in other countries? And perhaps most importantly, what is the biggest pancake ever made and how can we get our hands on one?
Read on for answers to (some of) these questions and more.
The World’s Largest Pancake
For definitive proof that the north of England is the place to be, look no further than the world’s biggest pancake ever. Made in Rochdale 24 years ago, this record-breaking treat weighed 3 tonnes (for some perspective, that is heavier than your average white rhinoceros) and measured in at almost 50 feet long. That is a lot of pancake.
It also contained more than 2 million calories, which is around 1,000 times the daily recommended intake. So, if eating 2.5 years’ worth of calories in one go isn’t your thing, only make one of these to share or just stick to a regular sized pancake.
An Abundance of Eggs
Feeling eggstatic about pancake day? You’re not alone. Each year, over 50 million eggs are used on Shrove Tuesday in the UK alone.
The available data tells us that this is almost three times as many as the regular daily average. If that number rises higher, we’ll be looking a similar number of eggs used on pancake day as there are people in the entire United Kingdom.
Racing for a Tasting
As it turns out, pancake races – much like egg races – have a long and rich history in the UK. Olney, a market town in Buckinghamshire, is thought to be the birth place of the modern-day pancake racing phenomenon.
The story goes as follows: some time in the 15th century an unidentified woman ran out into her street with a pancake and pan in hand, as she lost all track of time whilst cooking and heard the bells ring for mass. The area holds annual pancake races to this day.
What? No Pancakes?
Believe it or not, there are places that choose to welcome Shrove Tuesday not with the eating of pancakes, but through the consumption of wildly different foods.
In Baltic countries, eating pea soup is a popular Shrove Tuesday tradition. Why not try it as a healthier alternative this year?
Some in Poland have other ideas however, as a very popular choice in that country is perhaps even less nutritious, and even tastier, than pancakes. We are talking about the Pączki, a Polish donut. The Polish contingent of the USA hold yearly Pączki eating contests.
The goal is simple: eat as many as you can as quickly as possible. No running required.
A Sweet Drink
That most popular pancake companion, the Canadian import of maple syrup, was originally a sweet beverage. Initially discovered by Algonquin Indians, they collected the sap from sugar maple trees and proceeded to boil before drinking.
Fast forward to present day, and you will find maple syrup in kitchens around the globe. It is exported from Canada in massive quantities, such is the appetite for maple syrup and the pancakes we drizzle it on year after year.
The Origin Story
Some research indicates that ‘Pancake Day’ may have initially been a pagan festival. The Slavic peoples would make warm, circular pancakes to mimic the sun, in an effort to diminish the evil gods of winter and bring forth the warmer climate of spring.
As a Christian celebration known as Shrove Tuesday, it takes place the day before Ash Wednesday, which indicates the beginning of lent. Lent is a 6-week period of repentance for sins and reflection, making Shrove Tuesday the last day of many vices – including fatty food consumption.
As you can see, Pancake Day does in fact have many stories behind its long history. As you bite into your latest pancake, remember how it all began and savour how sweet it tastes. Just don’t run with it outside of a controlled environment.
If you need a dynamic and brand-new kitchen to enjoy pancake day for years to come, visit Ramsbottom Kitchens in Ramsbottom, Bury today at www.ramsbottomkitchens.co.uk.
Ooh you’re making me hungry, I need to find someone who is willing to cook me the world’s biggest pancake!
I’d never really thought much about the history behind Pancake Day, but I loved reading this! x