Combining ancient traditions with our love for our food – Pancake Tuesday #EnjoyNI16
So tomorrow is Pancake Tuesday and everyone is getting ready to flip. Eleanor McGillie, Director of MGMPR Ltd, reflects on how an ancient tradition helps us today to celebrate our Taste of Ulster.
Pancake Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, the Day Before Lent – however you may want to refer to it, February 9, 2016 is a Pancake Day which will perhaps hold more meaning to us here in Northern Ireland than in previous years.
This year, being the Year of Food and Drink Tourism, we are celebrating the connection between our land and our plate. It’s likely that we will be focusing more this year on do we buy our pancakes from a local bakery, do we buy our own flour, milk and eggs from our local suppliers or do we pop in to a local restaurant and enjoy the delights the chefs have on offer?
Pancake Tuesday is perhaps a tradition that has lost its way a bit in Northern Ireland over recent decades. Ancient traditions of street football and pancake races used to be a key focus of the celebrations.
Pancake races, however, is the longer lasting tradition which is said to have originated in 1445 when a housewife from Buckinghamshire was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service.
In a state of panic, she was said to have raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake, tossing it constantly to prevent it from burning.
Since then, the pancake race remains a relatively common festive tradition – more so in towns and villages in England than in Northern Ireland. It’s still a common sight in locations in England to see competitors with frying pans racing through the streets, tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan while running.
The most famous pancake race, at Olney in Buckinghamshire, has been ongoing since 1445. The contestants, mostly women, race carrying a frying pan over a 415-yard course to the finishing line.
It’s a fun tradition but here in Northern Ireland, we may not race the race as much but we can certainly toss the toss.
Pancakes are associated with the day preceding Lent because traditionally it’s a time for us all to use up the rich foods which may still be stocked in our larders – eggs, flour, sugar and milk – before we fast for the 40 days of Lent.
But one things is for sure, everybody loves a good pancake, and this year Pancake Tuesday falls in the middle of the Love Local month in our Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink calendar.
This is a perfect time to make this Pancake Tuesday something special by combining the taste of our local products with an ancient tradition stemming back to 1445.
While we may not be racing up and down streets tossing pancakes we can certainly dedicate our focus to our local producers who play a massive role in our celebration of this ancient tradition.
No doubt everyone is thinking ahead about how they will celebrate.
In Armagh, Dean Coppard, the Head Chef of Northern Ireland’s only Australian Restaurant, is certainly placing his focus on local suppliers.
Diners in Uluru Bar & Grill will celebrate Pancake Tuesday with the chef’s pancakes tossed using milled flour from Andrews Flour, free range eggs supplied by a local poultry farmer, milk from Dale Farm, served with honey made by local beekeepers and served alongside cured bacon from Pinkerton’s.
Emerson’s Supermarket too is encouraging local businesses in Armagh’s historic city centre to celebrate Pancake Tuesday during their tea breaks. The independent supermarket, which has been operating for 125 years, is all too familiar with serving up delights in support of traditions so Pancake Tuesday is no different. Its shelves are stocked with pancakes and toppings from local suppliers – enough to make any office Pancake Tuesday party one to remember.
And what about buttering your warm pancakes with some delicious Abernethy Butter, or spreading a little love with local honey, or having pancakes with some Clandeyboye Estate Strawberry, Raspberry or Toffee Caramel yoghurts.
Whatever way you like your pancakes – support your local producers and restaurants and cafes this Pancake Tuesday. In Northern Ireland, the pancake opportunities are endless.
So let’s celebrate an ancient tradition with our people who put the pancakes on our table. Little did that housewife in Buckinghamshire know what she was getting us into!
Eleanor McGillie is the Director of MGMPR LTD and is a Member of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). MGMPR LTD is a multi-media PR agency which uses brand journalism as a powerful communication tool. If you are a food and drink producer or restaurateur who wants to tell your story during the Year of Food and Drink Tourism, give MGMPR Ltd a call on 028 3756 9569 or 07709805379 | email firstname.lastname@example.org | PR Northern Ireland | Public Relations Northern Ireland | Brand Journalism UK