Eating pancakes on the day before Lent is a tradition that goes back to the Middle Ages.
During Lent there are many foods that some Christians - historically and today - would not eat: foods such as meat and fish, fats, eggs, and milky foods.Flapjacks are no longer the rich comestible of yester-millennium. In the age of the low-carb diet this now-inexpensive dish is pancake non grata.
So that no food was wasted, families would have a feast on the shriving Tuesday, and eat up all the foods that wouldn't last the forty days of Lent without going off.
The need to eat up the fats gave rise to the French name Mardi Gras ('fat Tuesday'). Pancakes became associated with Shrove Tuesday as they were a dish that could use up all the eggs, fats and milk in the house with just the addition of flour.
However, our tastes are more plebeian than haute, so we stopped at IHOP to take advantage of their offer of free pancakes last Tuesday. From the standpoint of profitability, IHOP's promotion was a loser. The dining room was packed, and we noted more than a few tables ordering nothing more than pancakes and water.
We ordered a few items from the menu--plus pancakes, of course--and overstuffed ourselves. Gotta pay our respects to tradition. © 2009 Stephen Yuen
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