This evening, families, couples, singletons and people who only ever get their frying pans out once a year, will gather in their kitchens to throw scalding hot pancakes in the air. For today is Pancake Day, a British celebration like no other.
While Shrove Tuesday may well be celebrated elsewhere in the world, nowhere marks Pancake Day like the British. Here, we train for it. Our children compete in school races, armed with frying pans and cold pancakes, having been guided in their tossing technique by experienced parents.
At home, in company, at parties, gatherings and clubs, we attempt the double toss, the triple toss and the legendary quadruple toss when preparing our pancakes. We scrape pancakes off ceilings; we pick them off the floor; we try them with a vast array of both savoury and sweet toppings; we all have a unique take on the humble pancake recipe; we have favourite frying pans – ones that toss better than others – and we take pride in eating as many as we possibly can.
British or American pancakes?
We also, on the whole largely agree that the thin, crepe-style pancake is the only pancake worthy of consideration on Pancake Day. There is no place on a British plate on Pancake Day for our American cousins’ thicker, smaller, inferior breakfast pancake. It is not tossable in the traditional sense, so is therefore eliminated from most Pancake Day races and tossing tournaments.
As for toppings, while there is room of course for the savoury pancake, 99% of Brits will opt for either chocolate spread or lemon and sugar on their pancakes this evening. The frivolous may entertain the idea of fruit and cream, but really they’ll be wishing they’d opted for Nutella.
So, Happy Pancake Day. Wherever you are and whatever you’re doing, I hope you manage a quadruple toss, capture it on camera and post it on Instagram. I hope your evening is as gloriously messy and chaotic as it should be, that your kitchen looks like a bomb site by the end and that at least one member of your household claims the ‘Pancake Stuck To Ceiling’ crown.
Now then, where did I put the world’s greatest pancake frying pan?