Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day)

Shrove Tuesday - Pancake dayShrove Tuesday - 4th March 2014 - Pancake Day

Customer:  Waiter, will my pancake be long?
Waiter:  No sir, it will be flat and round like everyone else's.

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Pancake Jokes

A Welshman, an Englishman and an American were having a drink.

At first they talked about cars and farms, and true to form, the American had the swankiest car and the biggest farm.  Then they got to talking about children's names.

'My son was born on St David's Day', remarked the Welshman, 'So - look you,  we obviously Christened him David.'

'That's a real coincidence', observed the Englishman', My son was born on Michaelmas Day, 29th of September, so we decided to call him Michael.'

'That's remarkable', piped up the American, 'Exactly the same thing happened with my son Pancake.'

Playing God?

It was Shrove Tuesday and Mrs Thomas was making pancakes for her sons, Aaron 6, and Kelvin 8.

As usual, the brothers began to argue over who should get the first pancake. Their mother saw a wonderful opportunity for a moral lesson.

'If Jesus were sitting at the table, He would say, "Let my brother have the first pancake".'

Quick as a flash Kelvin turned to Aaron and said, 'Aaron, today you can be Jesus!'

Reader's Pancake Joke, Complete with Funny Picture

What did the young pancake say to the old burnt pancake?
I don't like your flip side.

Shrove Tuesday? - Give me Mardi Gras any day!

Pancake jokes

Every dog has his day, but for Patch, Pancake Day was not it.  (Kindly sent in by Jason E)Pancake Day - Shrove Tuesday

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Jenny Loves Her Pancakes

One February Jenny went to her psychiatrist.  She told him, "My friends said that I had to come see you because they think I have a problem with pancakes."

The psychiatrist says, "Why do they think that?"

"Well," Jenny replies. "Because, I just like pancakes."

"That's not a problem," the psychiatrist responds. "I love griddle cakes too!"

"Really?!" the Jenny exclaims. "Then you should come to my house, I have a whole attic full of pancakes!"

Pancake Joke For April Fool's Day

On April 1st John's mother put a fire cracker under the pancakes.

She blew her stack.

When Is Shrove Tuesday in 2014? - 4th March

Remember that it's Easter that fixes the date for Shrove Tuesday.  Therefore working backwards, we have Lent with its 40 days of fasting before we get to Easter.  Now Lent starts on Ash Wednesday, so the day before is when cooks use up all the 'naughty foods'. In the olden days two 'naughty foods', which are not allowed in Lent, would be butter and eggs - ideal for making pancakes.  Hence Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Day.

Curiously, when calculating Lent, Sundays don't count, hence Shrove Tuesday is actually 47 days before Easter Sunday.

Dates for Shrove Tuesday

The earliest possible date for Shrove Tuesday is the 3rd of February, while the latest possible date is the 9th of March.

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A Definition of Shroving

Shroving is a ancient British custom in which children sang or recited poetry in exchange for food or money.
A popular shroving rhyme went like this:

Knock, knock, the pan's hot
And we are coming a-shroving
For a piece of pancake
Or a piece of bacon
Or a piece of truckle* cheese
Of your own making.

*Truckle cheese is barrel shaped and is often mature Cheddar.

Some Tasty International Pancakes Brought to you by Will and StevePancake jokes

America (USA):  We believe that American style pancakes are particularly thick or fluffy, and best served with Vermont maple syrup and butter.  Some American cooks add a little vanilla, while others add blueberries; most also add baking powder to create their 'griddlecakes'.  Also Mardi Gras.

Canada:  Canadian pancakes are moister than American ones but still served with maple syrup.

China:  Chinese pancakes are fried in sesame oil and are apparently superb with duck.

Finland:  Finnish pancakes are ideal for people with a sweet tooth, these should be served with jam, whipped cream, berries, cinnamon and sugar, honey or maple syrup.

France:  Will can support the fact that the French excel at crepes [sweet] and galettes [savoury] and often served with a bowl of local cider.

Germany:  The Germans tend to make apple pancakes which are baked in the oven.  They also have 'Puff' pancakes, which look like English 'Yorkshire Puddings'.

India:  Indian pancakes sound scrummy; savoury pancakes are prepared with ginger, garlic and cayenne. Mung beans may also be part of the recipe.

Italy:  Calzonia are common in Italy, they are more like an enclosed pizza than an English pancake.

Mexico:  The renowned Mexican pancake equivalent is the wheat tortilla; Will has also eaten them made from maize [cornmeal].

Netherlands:  'Flensjes' are crepe cakes, usually made with apples and occasionally rhubarb.

Nigeria: Nigerian pancakes are often served with beans, tomatoes and shrimp, making a complete meal.

Norway:  'Krumkakes' are thin, crisp, cone-shaped cookie-like crepes, often served at Christmas. They are sometimes made with a special flat iron which leaves a decorative pattern.

Poland: Will and Guy's friend, Kinga Sadkowska, tells them that Polish pancakes, 'Nalesniki', are thin crepes which are usually served with a special cottage cheese filling. Lovely.

Russia: The regular Russian the pancake of choice is the 'blini': which is small and thick, ideal with sour cream or caviar.

Sweden:  The Swedish Raggmunk is made from riced potatoes.

Welsh: The Welsh make their pancakes with buttermilk or sour cream.

Perhaps you are able to add to this list?  We would like to get to 20 types of pancakes.?  If so, please let us know.  We particularly prize funny pancakes.

Why Pancake Day is Celebrated Less in the USA

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Much of America celebrates Mardi Gras on the day before Lent.  That's the same day as Shrove Tuesday, and as there is no contest between pancakes and a parade followed by a party, Shrove Tuesday gets overlooked anywhere where they celebrate Mardi Gras.  Incidentally 'Mardi' is the French for Tuesday and Gras means fat, hence 'Fat Tuesday'.

Etymology of the Word Shrove

In modern English, the word 'Shrove' has no meaning outside of pancake or Shrove Tuesday.  Academics can trace shrove to the past tense of the verb shrive, which itself means absolution.  This derivation helps to cement the meaning of eating up luxury food before the penance of fasting during Lent.

If you bring to mind other old words such as Yuletide (Christmas) and Eastertide, then it will be no surprise that there are lesser known '-tides', Allhallowtide (Halloween), Whitsuntide (Whitson) and Shrovetide.  My point is that Shrove Tuesday is the last day of Shrovetide.

Amusing Church Notice

The pastor would appreciate it if the ladies of the congregation would lend him their electric girdles for the pancake breakfast on Shrove Tuesday.

 See more Church New items

Shrove Tuesday Traditions

In the 21st century, Shrove Tuesday is most strongly associated with pancake activities.

  • The world record for cooking the biggest pancake was set in Rochdale, Yorkshire, England in 1994. The super-pancake measured 15 metres in diameter and weighed 3 tons.
  • Ralf Laue from Leipzig, Saxony, Germany broke the world record in 1997 by tossing a pancake 416 times in two minutes.
  • Pancake races in various towns, most famously, in Olney, Buckinghamshire, England.

Ashbourne Royal Shrovetide Football

Shrovetide football in Ashbourne, Derbyshire, England is something different, a unique game.  On Shrove Tuesday, and also on Ash Wednesday, the Up'ards play the Down'ards, it's a no holds barred game of football with the goals three miles apart.

Instead of a kick-off, Shrovetide has a 'turning up' where a dignitary throws the special ornate ball into the crowd and the game starts.  The event first came to the wider public's notice when in 1928 the then Prince of Wales (Later abdicating King Edward VIII) got caught up in the mêlée.  Without modern-day protection officers he got sucked into the scrum and came out with his nose bleeding. Shrovetide 2009

The only rules are:
You must not intentionally cause harm to others
No motorised vehicles
No hiding the ball in bags or rucksacks
No trespassing, especially in churchyards.

The 2010 game was of the most controversial for some years.  Eventually the committee decided that at the end of day one Dave Spencer's goal be disallowed because it was "goalled" AFTER the 22.00 deadline.  The amended result was a 1:1 draw.

In 2008 there was a sensation when the Up'ards were accused of cheating by having a counterfeit decoy ball.  Each year a new ball is crafted with most ornate design.  The Down'ards claim that a crucial time they were distracted by this fake impostor of a ball.  To get any progress along the 3 mile pitch you need brains and subterfuge, as well as brawn and speed; selling the proverbial dummy is OK, but introducing another ball threatens the integrity of the game.  The stewards' enquiry is likely to rumble on.

Scores
2013 Up'ards 1 : 1 Down'ards
2012 Up'ards 1 : 1 Down'ards
2011 Up'ards 2 : 2 Down'ards
2010 Up'ards 1 : 1 Down'ards 
2009 Up'ards 1 : 1 Down'ards
2008 Up'ards 2 : 0 Down'ards
2007 Up'ards 1 : 0 Down'ards

Footnote:
Will and Guy were struggling to find official record for the scores in these games until Ian French provided details of the results going back to 1891.

The Shrovetide Spectre
By Leslie Oldfield

Many people mistakenly think that ghosts are only found in derelict mansions and graveyards. Furthermore, they think they only appear at night and only when there are few living humans around and subsequently, therefore, feel safe in city centres and crowded places. The fact of the matter is, however, that dead people have similar predilections to living ones.

See the rest of this fascinating Shrovetide story.

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Further Shrove Tuesday Jollies Around England

Thanks to Adrian Tierney-Jones and The Telegraph online for researching these lovely old games.  It's interesting how they are all held on Pancake Day, and all involve a large number of people over much greater distances than modern football pitches.  These games seem timeless in both senses of the word.

The Ball Game
Atherstone, Warwickshire, England

According to Harold H Taft, secretary of the Ball Game Committee, this rough, tough game (that uses something akin to a medicine ball) has its roots in the time of King John. "The game is a free-for-all and anyone can take part," he says, adding pointedly, "...at their own risk." The ball is thrown from a first floor window at Barclays Bank and the first battle is to claim one of three ribbons attached to the ball. The ball is then kicked up and down the street and after 90 minutes a massive scrum forms with whoever ends up with the ball at 5pm being declared the winner. "To an outsider it can look quite dangerous," agrees Taft with a sage smile. Kick-off: 3pm.

The Shrove Tuesday Football Ceremony of the Purbeck Marblers
Corfe Castle, Dorset, England

Members of the Company of Marblers and Stone Cutters of Purbeck gather at The Fox for their annual meeting and lunch. Afterwards they kick a football (it used to be a pig's bladder) through West Street over an open piece of ground and back to the town hall. The "game" is much more subdued that it used to be (records from the Fifties recall broken windows). "Now we tend to stand back and let the traffic go," says stone mason Brian Bugler, who has been playing for 30 years. This game is confined to the men who work in the trade - from 15-30 take part. In 1992, a local policeman ignorant of the tradition confiscated the ball. Kick-off: 1.30pm

Cornish Hurling
St Columb, Cornwall, England

The "pitch" is a massive 31 square miles, while the game is supposedly an echo of a pagan ritual celebrating the lengthening of the days as spring approached. The ball is the size of a cricket ball, made from apple wood and covered with silver. Two sides take part: those living in the town (the townsmen) and those outside (the countrymen), with up to 50 on each side. "People come and watch it at their own risk," laughs Colin Rescorla, a local funeral director who has been making the ball for the past 20 years. Non-locals can have a go but, as Rescorla says, "If you aren't recognised then you won't get your hands on the ball unless by brute force." Kick-off: 4.30pm.

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Scoring the Hales
Alnwick, Northumberland, England

This caused so much devastation when it took place in the streets of Alnwick that the Duke of Northumberland offered a meadow called the Pasture as a replacement. More than 100 players take part, representing local parishes St Paul's and St Michael's. The game starts with the match ball being thrown from the Barbican of Alnwick Castle to the chairman of the Shrovetide Football Committee. Everyone then marches over the River Aln to the field of play. The game is decided by scoring goals or hales. When a hale is scored the teams change ends; the first to score two hales wins. Kick-off: 2pm

Olney Prepares for 'World's Oldest' Pancake RaceOleny Pancake - Oldest Race

25 female competitors will run the race wearing aprons and headscarves

A Buckinghamshire town, in England, is due to hold what is thought to be the world's oldest pancake race later. The race in Olney dates back to 1445, so Will and Guy believe, and is believed to have begun with a town's woman arriving late for the Shriving service at the parish church.

The 25 female competitors will run the race wearing aprons and headscarves and carrying a frying pan with a pancake. The winner, on crossing the line, is greeted by the verger with the traditional kiss of peace.

'Ladies from the town race from the Market Square to the church in memory of a town cook,' race organiser Ian Ford informed us, 'the story goes that on hearing the shriving bell, calling everyone to the church service, she ran out of the house clutching her frying pan and still wearing her apron.'

The race is started by the churchwarden at 11.55 GMT and is immediately followed by a Shriving service at the Parish.

Aussie Chef Breaks World Record for Tallest Pancake StackWorld Record Pancake Stack

An Australian chef has entered the Guinness World Records book by creating the world's tallest stack of pancakes. Andy Wrobel built this tower of 60 pancakes that stood 76cm (29 inches) high in Melbourne, Australia on Shrove Tuesday 2012 report Will and Guy. Rex photos

The stack - which ultimately toppled over - was built at his Pancake Parlour establishment, where he has been working for over 25 years and where he flips 100,000 servings annually.

He told us, 'We tried last year and we got to 61 centimetres and did pretty well. We thought we'd give it another go and this year we actually did it. We had a lot of practices, spent about 50 hours, probably used another quarter of a ton of buckwheat mix, and we finally got to the point where we needed to go.'

Wrobel managed to break a record set, interestingly enough, in Croatia in 2008.

The Pancake Flip Conundrum

This is how the pancake problem is postulated: The chef is sloppy, and when he cooks a stack of pancakes they come out all different sizes. Therefore, when the waiter serves them to a customer, on the way to the table he has to rearrange them (so that the smallest winds up on top, and so on, down to the largest at the bottom) by grabbing several from the top and flipping them over, repeating this (varying the number I flip) as many times as necessary.  If there are 'n' pancakes, what is the maximum number of flips (as a function of n) that the waiter will ever have to use to rearrange them?Pancake flips

To understand the problem, we can try to work out the number of flips required for three pancakes. The three pancakes can arrive in one of the following six arrangements, and alongside each stack is the number of flips required to put them in the right order.

As the pile of pancakes grows, the problem becomes increasingly difficult as there are more and more possible starting arrangements, and an increasing number of possible flipping procedures; P17 = 19, P18 = 20, P19 = 22 and - as yet - nobody knows the number of flips required to reorder 20 pancakes in the worst case scenario.

The problem is simple to pose, yet tough to solve. Indeed, nobody is close to developing a general formula that predicts the number flips required for any given number of pancakes.

Mathematicians always like a deceptively difficult problem.  Indeed, Bill Gates's only academic paper is on the topic of pancake flipping. His co-authored paper proved an upper limit to the number of flips required to reorder 'n' pancakes, namely (5n + 5) ⁄ 3 flips. Therefore, if you receive 100 pancakes, you will always be able to order them correctly in 166 or fewer flips.

Ripon Pancake Day Race ScrappedRipon Pancake Race banned

The Ripon traditional pancake race has been scrapped because of fears over health and safety.

The event was revived 11 years ago and since then crowds have gathered in the centre of Ripon, North Yorkshire, UK, on Shrove Tuesday. Schoolchildren run down a cobbled street flipping pancakes after the start is signalled by the ringing of the cathedral's ancient 'pancake bell' at 11 am. 

Organisers reluctantly scrapped the popular event this year because of mounting costs and bureaucracy linked to health and safety rules.  The police wanted more than £1,000, to control the event.  In the past, local schools and businesses have entered teams to race while tossing pancakes.

Organiser Councillor Bernard Bateman added, 'Health and safety has just gone too far. It makes you think twice about even trying to hold events like this, even though they are extremely popular, especially amongst children. The main issue with health and safety is the cobbled street people could slip on, but it causes us so much trouble just for a little issue. This stupidity never happened previously. It's a shame that these issues stop the children enjoying such a traditional event.'

Will and Guy can't help but agree with Mr Bateman.  We also wonder if this is just a UK problem, please let us know the Health and Safety  situation is in other countries.

Guy's Special Pancake Recipe

Ingredients
150g / 6oz plain flour, sifted
pinch of salt
3 eggs
300ml / 12 fl oz milk mixed with 100ml / 4fl oz water
75g / 3oz butter

Special Shrove Tuesday ingredient - Sultanas.  Add about 20 currants, raisins or sultanas (best) to the mixture when it's in the frying pan.

MethodShrove Tuesday
Sift the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl.  Top tip: Hold the sieve high above the bowl so the flour gets an airing.  Break the eggs into the flour (naturally no shells). Then whisk the eggs, a fork is fine, but lovers of gismos may prefer to use an electric whisk. Another tip: leave the mixture for 30 minutes for any difficult lumps to dissolve naturally.

Now you are ready to add small quantities of the milk and water mixture, keep whisking until you get the consistency of thin cream.  You always get lumps, but have faith, eventually they will dissolve into the mixture.  Next melt the butter in a pan.  Spoon the butter into the batter and whisk it in.  Tip: use kitchen paper to smear the pan with butter before you make each pancake.

Cooking the Pancakes:
Get the pan smoking hot, then turn the heat down to medium.     By all means experiment with various thicknesses, but my opinion is that thinner is better, aim more for crêpes rather than crumpets.  Here is where you add those sultanas, I think about 20 is right, but be flexible.

Trick: As soon as the batter hits the hot pan, tip the mixture around from side to side to get the base evenly coated with batter.  It should take only half a minute to cook the first side. The first pancake is often a bit leathery - no worries, the rest will be fine.Pancake Day Tuesday

Here is a high risk, high reward strategy - toss your pancake.  Remember that 'leathery' first pancake?  Use it to practice your tossing.  The secret is to flick the wrist so that you give the pancake a slow spin, then bring the pan down in sympathy with the flipping pancake.

To serve:
Squeeze fresh lemon juice (else use one of those plastic lemon juice bottles)
Some like sugar sprinkled on their pancakes (not me)
Option 1: Spread maple syrup.
Option 2: Crêpes Suzette variation: Add one finger of warm brandy to the cooked pancake then set fire with a match.  (If you are not a poser, you are better off drinking the brandy as a chaser.)
Roll-up your pancake with a fork then cut pieces of your 'tube'.

Secret - Eat your pancakes fresh; re-heated pancakes lose their texture compared with those straight out of the pan.

 

Footnote:
Please send us your funny Shrove Tuesday stories and pancake jokes.