It’s a bizarre British tradition. Every Mardi Gras (aka Shrove Tuesday, which falls on February 12 this year) people throughout the country whip out frying pans, pour in batter and start flipping their way to a pile of pancakes. Originally a ploy to use up rich ingredients like eggs, milk and sugar prior to the start of the Lenten fast, it’s now a time-honored custom that sees people not only sprinkling pancakes in the traditional lemon and sugar, but also serving them with savory ingredients including ham and cheese or even steak and seafood.
If you’re lucky enough to find yourself in London on Pancake Tuesday and want to get a taste — both metaphorical and literal — of what it’s all about, here are three ways you can celebrate:
Head to Fortnum and Mason — of hamper fame — on February 12 and you’ll find its in-store chef giving a comprehensive crêpe cookery demonstration and sharing the cherished secrets of how to produce that perfect pancake every time. If you’re inspired to give it a go yourself, you can pick up pancake-making paraphernalia here.
You’ll need to get together with some friends or fellow travelers for this one. The Great Spitalfields Pancake Race involves teams of four people, usually in odd costumes, jogging along Dray Walk on Brick Lane and tossing pancakes as they go. You’ll need to bring your own frying pan, but Alternative Arts (the organizers of the event) will happily provide the pancakes. And it’s all in the name of charity, as all proceeds go to London’s Air Ambulance.
3. Eat some pancakes.
Alternatively, you could just do what everyone else does and eat some pancakes. There are a number of London restaurants renowned for their Shrove Tuesday offerings, and the very best of the bunch are Breakfast Club, William Curley’s Dessert Bar and The Ritz Restaurant.
Photos Courtesy of iStock-Robynmac, The Ritz Restaurant and Alternative Arts