Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Pancake Day/Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras!

We celebrated English Pancake Day on Saturday, because today the boys and I are flying to England - a brief stop over to recover at Ben's parents before flying on to Edinburgh on Wednesday! (I've scheduled this post in advance - it took me AGES to learn how to do that!)It may have been the English day we were celebrating (the French one comes on February 2nd each year), but it was a good reason to get out this French recipe book, which I'd hardly used before.
I wanted to make galettes, the crispy brown savoury pancakes from Brittany, which use the blé noir flour made of buckwheat - I remember Mami writing about buckwheat, so this is a very international alternative to cereal products - I gather it's actually a member of the rhubarb family, which thrived in damp Brittany before the arrival of more damp-tolerant wheats.
My French and Breton friends are now entitled to laugh at my struggles! I did everything right, and ended up with the batter above, which has a very different structure and texture to the normal crèpe batter below.
What I really hadn't taken in was that the nifty little spatula which looks like a window-wiper really isn't an optional extra when working with galette batter. It just doesn't slosh around the pan - you have to lead it everywhere! An early attempt looked like this:Getting better, but getting really messy, too!Nearly the right thinness, now...I remembered seeing the 'window squeegie' spatulas being kept in water, so I did that with my inferior alternative, which helped a bit. I was onto the aperitif by that point...By the end of the batch, I was getting acceptable galettes.Once onto the crèpe batter, I aquired a helper. Son 2 wanted to learn how to swirl the batter round the pan, and got quite good.We ended up with a huge plate of galettes to go with a chili (yum) and another plate of crèpes for pudding, served with lemon, lime or sugar. We warmed them up a batch at a time on my raclette heater - a very, very useful French gadget.So, why on Shrove Tuesday? What is Shrove Tuesday? One thing I do know is that it's the same day as Mardi Gras in France and round the world. I also know that it's a day of feasting and festivals - using up fatty foods in the UK, and eating sweets and dressing up for the Mardi Gras carnivals. Angela and Elizabeth can tell you more...
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This is all because it's the day before Lent, which has always been a season of fasting in the Christian calendar - it's 40 days of preparation for Easter. I think a time-line may be in order here, says the teacher:
The date of Easter moves around according to the phases of the moon, just like Passover - it's in many ways the same festival. So, this year, tomorrow is the start of Lent. I won't be fasting as such, in fact I don't even know exactly what I will be doing except for learning and sharing with you in the Pause for Lent. Let's see how it goes!

23 comments:

Angela said...

Posting 'in advance' is wonderfully useful [once you have mastered it!- one of my early attempts went totally wrong]
Have a great time in scotland. Re the 'crepe spreaders' -are they those T-shaped things which appear to be made of 2 bits of dowelling?
Perhaps I should be eating just vegetables for Lent. It would certainly help my weight! blessings x

Itch2stitch.com said...

I had forgotten it was pancake day this year! Have a wonderful time away Floss! suzie.xxx

sarah-jane down the lane said...

Oh how I love Pancake day, it is a lovely moment on our journey out of winter towards Spring. My M,agpie would make a lovely stack of pancakes for us after school, yum!

Have a brilliant Shrove Tuesday x

Polka Dot Daze said...

Well they look pretty good to me. Not sure how you worked out how to post in advance, but what a cool idea. Have fun in England and Scotland - totally jealous!

melanie said...

Yummy! We'll be making pancakes when we come home today. :) xx

TheMadHouse said...

I adore Gallets, we had some lovley ones when we visited Britany and Normandy - Oh my mouth waters at the though, with spinich and cheese. Have a great time in the UK

Elizabethd said...

Definitely need a window wiper for making crepes! and possibly an electric crepiere also.
Have a lovely time with family.

Country Style Living said...

Reading your post, has just reminded me it's Pancake day today. Your crepes and galettes look lovely. Enjoy the hols

Lululiz said...

We all love pancakes, the really thin French variety, crepes, so thats what I'll be making tonight, dozens of them, no doubt. As soon as one comes out of the crepes pan, it gets scoffed, lol, my lovely men sit at the table and take turns in devouring them.

Heloise said...

Enjoy your visit to England. I will be making some buckwheat pancakes later.

Maisey's Attic said...

Thankyou so much for making me feel welcome x

Michela said...

Hi Floss! Bon Mardi Gras!
..last day for eating fatty fried cakes too in Italy! It's interesting to see what you fill your crepes with, my mum uses only boring Nutella or vegetables..

RosieP said...

Yum, I've had pancakes with lemon and sugar for lunch will be having american pancakes with maple syrup for tea !!

Have a great time in Scotland.

Hugs RosieP x

Kissed by an Angel said...

I love pancakes!! I am having American pancakes with syrup for a change this year!!! They are my favourite!!!! Yum!!!
xxxx

Della said...

Scheduled posts rock my bloggy world- esp. if I know bad weather is coming and my internet is going to be out. :)

Yummy crepes!

Apron Senorita said...

Sounds like delicious pancakes. I wish you a good trip. Looking forward to a Pause for Lent. Thank you for hosting.

Yoli :)

Ticking stripes said...

Have a great time over here - wonder if you'll end up with any charity shop finds - you usually do!

magsmcc said...

I gave up on trying the crepe version a long time ago- when my newly wedded husband proved he could do infinitely better with his soda flour recipe! We're demolishing a mountain as I type! Over Lent I'll be working through one of my three Delia Smith books, would you believe! This is a devotional one called A Feast for Lent. I've been reading it for longer than Prince Charming has been making pancakes! Happy Spring, Floss! I'll be reading you all through your Pause for Lent. Gros bisous!

jus said...

Have a great trip and blimey those pancakes look delicious! x

Olga said...

Mmmm, they look really good! Have you ever tried them with caviar? That's how my mom prepares them at Christmas.

Sarah said...

Oh my that looked like a fun time! Even though I blogged about having pancakes, I forgot!!! Luckily I didn't tell the girls and they are none the wiser. I made French toast this morning to make up for it. I do love pancakes, always have been my favourite dessert. I like lemon and sugar on them best.

Sherri B. said...

I love that you took pictures of the process for your pancake day. We don't have that here in the USA, that I know of, maybe in the French part of Lousiana though...What kind of camera did you use? Hope you are enjoying your visit with all of your loved ones.

PRETTY IN PARIS said...

I'm so glad to get aquainted with your blog and another anglophone in France! I live in Paris and enjoy meeting new people.
Your posts are terrific, looking forward to keeping in touch.
Best wishes,
Brigitte