I just went out to pick lemons from my Meyer lemon tree. Yes, the temperature is 30° but my lemon trees are in the potting shed. They are in fruit and flower at the same time.
But what does this have to do with Shrove Tuesday?
At our house we could never let Shrove Tuesday go by without having our favorite dessert. Forget the trifle, sticky toffee pudding and Christmas pudding. Our favorite is pancakes. No, not American breakfast pancakes smothered in all kinds of gooey, strawberry, whipped cream concoctions or with a dose of pancake syrup. But those deliciously thin, rolled crepes sprinkled with sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice. We have been eating them on this day since childhood.
Shrove Tuesday is the last day before the beginning of Lent and pancakes were a way to use up those forbidden foods such as eggs and butter. Pancake races take place all over England, the most famous of all being in the town of Olney in Buckinghamshire. The race has been run there since 1445. Shrove Tuesday was a half day holiday and the 'Shriving Bell' would ring out from the church to call people to the service. Legend has it that a lady was in the middle of making her pancakes when the bell rang and she ran to the church pan in hand. Today the ladies of the town wearing apron and scarf start the race by tossing their pancake, run the 380 meters from the market square to the church, then toss the pancake again. The winner gets a kiss from the verger. Men can participate too but they must wear the apron and scarf.
I'm pleased to say that we have passed on pancake making through two generations. It wasn't Shrove Tuesday but while we were in Taipei at Christmas our 9 year old granddaughter made pancakes for us one night. We were busy discussing what we should have for dessert when the subject of pancakes came up. Vivian went into the kitchen, got out her recipe book, and measured out the ingredients.
She didn't toss the pancakes but used chopsticks to turn them.
Then made this lovely presentation. We ate them the same way we always do with sugar and lemon and they were delicious.