Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Mardi Gras Pancakes

Growing up, my family followed a lot of traditions surrounding food throughout the year... Mostly, I recall that these came from my father. My mother's traditional meal came on Christmas Day, when we ate prime rib and Yorkshire pudding, and for dessert enjoyed trifle--something I made for the first time this year. I can't imagine any other Christmas meal, and the two times I spent with my in-laws when we ate lasagna, turkey, ham, and fish, but no roast beef, I felt like I really was missing out on something.

I guess those traditions really mean a lot more to me than I've realized, but now as an adult, I try to carry out most of them. My husband thinks that many of them are silly, and some of them are to two people who are no longer practicing Catholics. We don't bother trying to remember not to eat meat on the Fridays of Lent and Advent. Particularly since neither of us likes fish all that much, and you can only eat so many fish sticks. I'd make my mom's tuna casserole, which I LOVE, but Michael hates noodles/pasta, so it's just me.

Anyway, I was under the mistaken impression that yesterday was Mardi Gras. I suppose because Nancy's Mardi Gras party was this past weekend, I thought that it must be this week. So I announced that we'd have our traditional Mardi Gras pancake feast for dinner last night.

I cooked up some bacon and whipped up some Bisquick pancakes. My father, I know, would be shocked that I stooped to use Bisquick, as he has revealed his top secret recipe for pancakes from scratch to me. I think he may have doctored the recipe, however, since my pancakes from scratch are always runny and hard to flip. The Bisquick pancakes may not taste as good, but they cook right. Decisions, decisions.

At my childhood home, my father was king of the pancakes. When we were little, he would get really fancy. Not content to make round silver dollar pancakes, my sister and I would be presented with strange shaped lumps arranged on our plate and informed that it was a teddy bear, a bunny, a heart, or (the piece de resistance) our initials. I recall once or twice he got really fancy with the hearts and added a bit of red food coloring, but I think this may have been over the top for even the Pancake King, as he only did it a time or two.

When Mardi Gras (or Shrove Tuesday as he calls it) rolled around, it was pancake supper night... I'm not sure how this came about, and I don't know of any other family who had/has this tradition. Dad would come home from work, put Mom to work frying up bacon or sausage, heat up the electric frying pan, and drop pancakes by the dozen, until we couldn't eat any more. It was our indulgence, our way of really getting in up to our elbows in butter and sugar and meat and all that other "bad stuff" before Lent began the next day.

So imagine my surprise last night, when halfway through a stack of pancakes, I glanced through the calendar, and noticed that Mardi Gras is NEXT Tuesday.

"Oh well, honey," I said, "Next week, I'll make sausage instead of bacon."

2 pearl(s) of wisdom:

Lesley said...

Growing up in Newfoundland, we celebrated 'Pancake Tuesday' every year. My grandmother would put things like coins into the batter.

I know what you mean about wanting to continue childhood traditions as an adult - I think it's a way of staying connected to our past, particularly those of us who are not close (geographically at least) to the original family unit.

Melissa said...

At my church in OK (Presbyterian) we had a traditional "Fat Tuesday" (Shrove Tuesday sounds so much more reverent!) Pancake Supper. The youth would help make the pancakes and it was a fundraiser for the mission trips in the summer. We Presbyterians aren't too strict about Lent and such but this was always a fun event. I'd never observed it before going to OK, although at my house we frequently ate pancakes, waffles, or french toast for dinner! Never for breakfast though - we were strange!