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Pancake Tuesday in Ireland

american-style pancakesLest we forget – Ireland is still a Catholic nation. Today is the day before Ash Wednesday, the Tuesday commonly known as “Pancake Tuesday” here in Ireland.

In Cuba it’s “Mardi Gras” and in the states it’s “Fat Tuesday.” The proper Catholic term (and still used by some older Irish folks) used most by formerly (or current) British colonies is “Shrove Tuesday”. “Shrove” comes from the old English “shrive,” which meant to confess one’s sins for absolution.

Why pancakes? Well, when Lent hits, rich ingredients like eggs, butter, cream and sugar are avoided for unleavened bread and other dispiriting fare. Thus, the practice of eating pancakes began.

Now, if you’re anything like me when you hear the word “pancake” you picture something like that lovely stack of flapjacks there to the left.

This is not what you will get in Ireland when you ask for a “pancake.”

And, by the way, a “flapjack” here is not North American lumberjack fare. It’s more like a candy bar – a dense, heavy, square-like baked good made of oats and raisins bearing NO RESEMBLANCE to a pancake.

Irish-style pancakeIrish pancakes are, it seems to me, actually French crepes. They are extremely thin – not cake-like at all – and look like those things there on the left. Best made on a grill (as opposed to a pan), they are not eaten in stacks with syrup, but rolled or folded over some sort of topping or filling.

The most Irish way to eat these “pancakes” is with sugar and butter dripping all over your fingers as you shove the delicious, folded yumminess into your mouth. They might be really different from American pancakes, but they’re incredibly yummy. Irish stores go nuts selling crepe (sorry, “pancake”) pans and accessories for about 24 hours.

Guess what I had for breakfast?