This blog is being written on the second day of Lent 2023, which might explain the author’s notably happy and equable temperament. On Shrove Tuesday, the kitchen was indeed depleted of its stock of eggs and butter, yet if we were celebrating in French fashion, our cuisine might be somewhat different with Beignets instead of pancakes.

As most readers know, in France, Mardi Gras – ‘Fat Tuesday’ – marks the last day of the carnival season, which commences on or after the Epiphany. The word ‘carnival’  derives from the Latin ‘ carne vale’  – ‘farewell to the flesh’.  In 1699 a French explorer was believed to have taken the tradition to the  New World in 1699, when he arrived at the Mississippi River, about 60 miles south of modern-day New Orleans. As France was celebrating the holiday on that day, he named the spot Point du Mardi Gras.

However, while the British associate pancakes with Shrove Tuesday in France, they belong to La Fête de la Chandeleur  – ‘The Festival of the Candles’, held on the 2nd of February. When making the crêpes, tradition has it the chef should toss the pan using their right hand while holding a gold coin in their left. Successfully tossing the pancake is said to bring prosperity and good luck, but it is apparently not good news if the crêpe lands on the floor. Rain is another unwelcome sign –“Quand il pleut pour la Chandeleur, il pleut pendant quarante jours”  – “If it rains for La Chandeleur, it will rain for 40 days”.

Another tradition of ensuring prosperity is placing the first crêpe in a drawer or on top of a wardrobe. All we will say to potential visitors for February 2024 is, please treat the kitchen as your own, but don’t forget where you left that pancake.

Although after a few days, you will probably be more than aware of its presence.