February the 16th is Pancake Day. Thousands of us up and down the country will be tucking in to this family favourite and across the globe all kinds of festivals will be taking place to mark Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. In New Orleans, Rio De Janeiro, Venice, Paris and a host of other cities, exotic carnivals will take over the streets. The celebrations have grown from just a simple feast, marking the beginning of Lent, into an explosion of colour, food and dance.
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So how will you celebrate this year? There is so much more to pancakes than just a sprinkle of sugar and a wedge of lemon. A simple batter of flour, milk and eggs can be transformed into a real culinary treat. Why not try a classic Crepes Suzette, with orange, caramel and crème fraiche? For an American twist serve your pancakes with blueberries and maple syrup or you could add a dash of alcohol to liven things up. Cointreau or Grand Marnier can add a potent orange zest.
For those with a less sweet tooth, a pancake can easily become a savoury snack. Add double cream, cooked ham, grated cheese and mushrooms for a delicious savoury bite. Why not spice things up with a tomato salsa, prawns, paprika and green salad? Alternatively, you could go Caribbean with some cooked butternut squash, allspice, cinnamon and Curacao flavoured cream. If you don't fancy flipping your own then check out local restaurants for Shrove Tuesday specials.
If you want to burn off some of those calories then try some of the more energetic ways of celebrating Shrove Tuesday. Southern Comfort is throwing its very own, New Orleans style, Mardi Gras party in London on the 18th of February. Tickets are free, just go to the Southern Comfort website for more details. The SoCo tour party also hits Glasgow and Manchester if you fancy dancing the night away Mardi Gras style. Check your local clubs and bars to find out where you can bop the night away in true carnival fashion.
Check out your local pancake run for more traditional entertainment. It's great fun for all the family and often a way to raise funds for charity. If you don't fancy running and flipping yourself then you could just watch and be entertained. The capital has some famous races taking place in Westminster, Spitalfields and All Hallows, look in your local press for more details of races nearer to home.
Do you have any favourite pancake recipes? Or have you an exciting carnival tale to share? Leave a comment and tell us about it.