Batter Up: It's Pancake Week Article -
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Batter Up: It's Pancake Week

Grab your griddles and whip out your whisks, because National Pancake Week starts the week before Mardi Gras!

Why do pancakes deserve a week-long celebration? Read on.

Feast Today, Fast Tomorrow

Pancake Week is grounded in ancient tradition. During the Middle Ages, it was common practice to prepare for Lent by purging the pantry of luxurious foods such as eggs, butter, and milk. These ingredients often became big batches of pancakes. To this day, many communities around the world feast on pancakes all the way through Shrove Tuesday--also known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras--before the season of moderation begins on Ash Wednesday. In fact, another name for Fat Tuesday is Pancake Day.

Celebrating Pancake Week

Despite its no-nonsense name, Pancake Week inspires its share of eccentric behavior.

  • The small town of Olney, England has been holding its Pancake Race every year since 1445. According to the lore, it began when an Olney housewife was cooking the family's traditional Shrove Tuesday pancakes. The church bell began to ring, summoning the townspeople to service, and the woman was so anxious to get there on time that she ran outside still holding her skillet--pancakes and all. This moment is reenacted in the town's annual Pancake Race: contestants line up, skillets in hand, waiting for the "pancake bell" to ring. Then they toss pancakes in the air, catch them in their skillets and race 400 yards to the church. When they reach the finish line, they must toss their pancakes one more time. After the race, everyone attends church services and then enjoys a community pancake party.

  • Determined not to leave all the fun to the Brits, the town of Liberal, Kansas has been competing with Olney in a good-natured transatlantic Pancake Race rivalry since 1950.

  • In Russia, the pre-Lenten pancake feast is known as Maslenitsa, and is celebrated by eating thin buckwheat crepes called blini, accompanied by caviar, honey, jam, sour cream or butter. These little symbols of the sun--golden, round and warm--signify the end of winter and the coming of spring. Bonfires, fireworks and snow games round out the festivities.

Stack 'Em Up

Whatever you may call them--battercakes, blini, blintzes, crepes, flapjacks, griddlecakes, hotcakes, johnnycakes, or pancakes--they stack up to a plateful of good eating. Experiment with thick batters and thin, make them sweet or savory, and try out all sorts of toppings and stuffings. Have a great time indulging in pancakes this week!

Feb. 18, 2010 12:44 pm
Wow I did not know about this but will make sure to keep this one next year. I love pancakes of all kinds!
Jan. 16, 2011 10:33 am
Sharons Perfect Pancakes I have the Perfect Pancake recipe-those McD's or IHOP pancakes are disgusting!! Here's my recipe mix in small bowl 1 egg,beaten 1 3/4 c milk 2 Tbsp oil(veg,canola-not olive) in another bowl blend 1 1/2 c all purpose flour(Cdn flour is harder-more like bread flour) 2 Tbsp sugar 1 Tbsp Baking powder 1/2 tsp salt Add liquid ingredients and blend until combined-don't overmix Heat griddle to 380 degrees and add 1 Tbsp oil and grease total surface. No more oiling necessary Pour batter in 1/4 c for each pancake(or more) Turn when bubbles appear and sides look drier. They will be ready soon after but make sure they are cooked through by testing one. add blueberries or bananas to mix if you like
Mar. 1, 2011 7:08 pm
I must adhere to a gluten-free diet and pancakes have been lost to me for awhile, but now that I've found, I can have them again. Yay!! I love to use poppy seeds or flax seeds in mine and always add an extra egg to any recipe.
Starla Overstreet 
Mar. 2, 2011 5:37 am
I grew up about an hour away from Liberal, Kansas, so this was very interesting to read about the traditional Pancake Race.
Mar. 9, 2011 8:22 pm
Very interesting! I love it! I am only sorry I read it too late. I will be sure to adopt and introduce this tradition to my family starting next year! Thanks!
Jun. 13, 2011 2:18 am
I love pancakes, they are a favorite in my home. The best ones are the ones with poppy seeds and a proportion of wheat flour and all purpose. They are just great! Pancake Tuesday is a great tradition to keep. We can eat pancakes with anything, I'm sure!
Mar. 3, 2014 11:21 am
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