Give a Spanish flip to the Pancake Day
Under normal circumstances, the Pancake Race would be an important part of British seasonal attraction. Sadly, no such racing excitement is planned for this Pancake Day on 16th February due to the obvious reason, but we don’t have to give up enjoyment entirely. We can take a different approach to this unique day with a Spanish twist.
Fat Tuesday or Fat Thursday?
Pancake Day is another word for the more official name Shrove Tuesday that is, in Christianity, the last day of indulgence in rich food before the ritual fasting of Lenten sacrifice for the upcoming forty days. The sacrifice starts on Ash Wednesday, the next day, hence relishing this Tuesday is important, although the strict religious connotation has almost disappeared in the modern world.
Even though both the UK and Spain share the concept of the last opportunity of feasting before Lent, there is no such a day as Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) in the Iberian Peninsula. Instead of Tuesday, they have it on the last Thursday before Lent. It’s called by a few different names, some say Jueves Lardero, others say Jueves Gordo - Fat Thursday.
While we normally have pancakes in the British isles, their food menu is different too. The day also has pseudonyms such as el día de la tortilla (Spanish omelette day) or even el día del choricer (chorizo day). What they actually make and how they celebrate are different region to region, village to village or even between families. In either case, the common idea is to clean the pantry of fatty foods and share the meal with families and friends before Lent.
Jueves Lardero 2020 (Guadalajara, Spain)
Carnaval de Cádiz
Another difference is that this Fat Thursday also marks the beginning of Carnivals in certain areas of Spain. Despite loving British culture, we can’t deny that the word Carnival sounds like an event more colourful and attractive than Pancake Race…
The most famous one in Spain is Carnaval de Cádiz where they celebrate the festivity with lively parades, outlandish costumes, entertaining music and satires. One of the main attractions is the groups of comical singers mocking current social or political issues. Not only family entertainment, they also provide perspectives on the world we live in, with a sense of rebellious humour. This carnival isn’t just an extravaganza to marvel but a social attempt to throw an ironic look at the world.
If you’re familiar with flamenco, you’ll recognise Tanguillos de Cádiz in this parody by a chirigota, a group of satirical singers at Carnaval de Cádiz:
‘Los duros antiguos’ de ‘Los Borrachos’ con el Selu y el Yuyu (1992)
Although it’s not a flamenco festivity, they also welcome flamenco musicians on stage too, especially if the artist is a gaditano/a, a person from Cádiz. In any case, the atmosphere entails a certain liberal air throughout.
Niña Pastori ‘Quiero Ser Libre’ Carnaval de Cadiz 2012
Voy a dar la vuelta a la tortilla
We have pancakes, they have tortillas. The idea of tortillas reminds me of the song ‘Willy Fox’ by Fondo Flamenco, expressing a wish to change the world for the better, as if flipping the tortilla over in the pan.
It won’t be so easy, but we also remember that the Pancake Race is usually held to raise money for charities. Although both the race in the UK and carnivals in Spain are to be missed this year, we can still do our kitchen activity, and even take this opportunity to give a small flip of contribution to the world - maybe donating something to charities, food banks, someone you care about. Even if not, you can still make someone happy by simply appreciating them, laughing together, just like we’d do at the Pancake Race or the Carnival.
Whether you make pancakes or tortillas, I hope this song will be your good companion for this Shrove Tuesday, the day of repent and amendments. The latter is more important.
‘Willy Fox’ by Fondo Flamenco
Carnival of Cádiz
You can watch Carnival songs with lyrics on the channel of 'Carnaval en Cádiz':