Fat Tuesday and Shrove Tuesday (also known as Pancake Day) arrive this week.
Shrove Tuesday is a day of celebration before the beginning of Lent, and people would customarily empty their pantries of sugar, fats and eggs or other things that were forbidden during Lent. And what better way to celebrate than with a big batch of pancakes.
While pancakes may not be considered one of those good-for-you foods, they do provide ample carbohydrates and a good supply of phosphorus and calcium. But more importantly, they taste good and are deserving of a place at the breakfast table or even the dinner table.
Pancakes are one of those foods that can be sweet or savory paring well with fruit, chocolate, even ham and cheese. Other interesting toppings include sour cream, caviar, ketchup, mustard, peanut butter and ice cream, though please don’t attempt all at the same time.
The first pancakes were called Alita Dolcia, or “another sweet” in Latin, and were made by the early Romans back in the first century A.D. Every culture has their own version of pancakes: France has crepes, Russia blinis and South America arepas. All delicious and worthy of a Fat Tuesday celebration.
But the folks in Liberal, Kansas have a truly unique way to celebrate Pancake Day. They begin celebrating over the weekend and end on Pancake Tuesday with a pancake flipping competition with Olney, England. The story began in England when a woman was trying to clear out the pantry before the beginning of lent, but she heard the church bells ring, and not wanting to be late, she ran out of her house frying pan in hand racing to the church while cooking pancakes. It caught on.
Back in the fifties it caught on in Liberal, Kansas as well, and they challenged the folks in England to a race, which has been going on some 60 years. So far the score stands at 37 wins for Kansas and 29 for England. Flipping pancakes while running would prove a daunting task for most of us, but if the folks in Kansas and England really want to make it challenging they should consider a race flipping the world’s largest pancake weighing in at about 6,000 pounds.
It might give a whole new meaning to flat as a pancake.