Pancakes exist in some form or another right around the world.
So what are these delicious morsels, anyway and where did they originate?
In answer to the first question, these food items are thin, flat or fluffy, round pieces of flour mixed into a batter, using egg and fat. As to where they originated, Archaeologists suggest that they were the cereal food of choice in prehistoric communities.
In comparatively recent times, the ever-present pancake has found itself taking on religious significance within the Christian faith, starting from the medieval era, up to the present.
Having entrenched itself in the annual feast on Shrove Tuesday, it remains a popular tidbit around the globe.
Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day, is the culmination of a three-day period called Shrovetide. During this time, people had to get ready for the big fast of Lent. The word “shrove” originated from shrive, meaning confession. All who were to participate in Lent had to confess beforehand.
Lent, of course, is a 40 day fast in remembrance of the period of forty days and forty nights that Jesus Christ spent out in the wilderness before his impending crucifixion, while on Earth. Fasting Christians don’t eat rich or fatty foods during this period, so Shrovetide was three days of activities carried out before the fasting started. In this time, participants would try and use up items like fat and dairy products in their homes by making pancakes.
Shrove Sunday marks the fiftieth day before Easter. Shrove Monday bacon was eaten, and the fat was reserved for cooking the pancakes the next day, which is Shrove Tuesday. Shrove Tuesday is when the fasting fraternity made merry, and enjoyed a final tasty treat, before they started their fast the following day, Ash Wednesday. Ash Wednesday is so called, because priests bless ashes to remind their congregations that they, too, will return to ash someday.
The basic ingredients found in a pancake also have meanings tied into their role in the religious festivities. For instance, there are four basic ingredients: milk, representing purity, flour, being the ‘stuff’ of life, eggs signifying creation, and salt standing for wholesomeness.
Irrespective of their origins, all pancakes have been baked on stones, in pans or griddles. It is not usual for a ‘typical’ pancake to be cooked in an oven. However they are cooked or eaten, pancakes have come through history into the present and are expected to continue to exist well on, into the future.