In this pandemic, some of us have not seen our families for months, if not a year. Some have not seen anyone but their families as our social circles contract. Some of us yearn to go home, others crave traveling away. We’re all exhausted (even more so key workers) and bored of our daily lives, where each day looks the same.
And so we need strategies to fight the monotony. For some, this may be reading or watching classics, for others catching up on new releases, or training for a sporting event. Since the beginning of 2021 I’ve turned to baking and cooking – embracing the many food-related ‘holidays’ around the world as an excuse to cook something new, to mark the day that we’re in and move on.
These holidays (often of religious origin) are different in each country – sometimes we celebrate different things, sometimes we celebrate the same thing, but on different days. After a January marked with a galette des rois for Epiphany (French cake, but this is also celebrated in other countries with different cakes) and haggis for Burns Night (Scotland), February has been all about pancakes. In France, we traditionally make crêpes on Candelmas/La Chandeleur which falls on 2 February every year. In the UK, pancake day falls on a different day – on Shrove Tuesday (the day before the beginning of Lent) – a moment to finish off the eggs and butter that would not be traditionally consumed during lent. Other countries have a tradition to finish off butter and eggs before Lent, but usually do it in more style/fat – with doughnuts and beignets of any kind, either on ‘Fat’ Tuesday, or a few days before (last Thursday for example was Tłusty Czwartek, or ‘Fat Thursday’ in Poland, a day for eating many pączki, a kind of doughnuts).
This year we need more excuses to celebrate – and thus for the last fourteen days, from French to UK pancake days, I’ve been making pancakes. Pancakes from home in Brittany (a region of France renowned for sweet crêpes and savoury buckwheat galettes) and from around the world (with recipes from Germany, China, India, Ethiopia, Japan, Morocco, the US…), sweet and savoury, some vegan, some gluten free.
As today is pancake day in the UK, many of us will be heading back once more in the kitchen. I suggest you make both pancakes that remind you of home (wherever that is) and pancakes that make you travel and try something new.
Here are some suggestions:
- Morrocan Baghrir – or ‘thousand holes pancakes’ – delicious and very easy to make (and it happens to be vegan)
- Staffordshire Oatcakes (UK) – a great traditional English savoury pancake using oats
- Chinese Spring Onion pancakes (Cong you bing) – a very fun way to create layers in dough, easy to make and delicious (can be vegan)
- Korean kimchi pancakes – for those who want something more spicy (also gluten free).
Let us know what you bake and what food holiday we should add to our calendars!