Do you call it Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Day, Mardi Gras or, as it’s known in Italy, Martedì Grasso?
Whatever name you know it by, the day before Ash Wednesday offers an excuse to indulge. In Italy, this time of the year goes under the name of Carnevale, and the last day of Carnevale, in 2018, falls on Tuesday 13 February. It’s the day before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. And because the date of Easter changes every year, so too does Carnevale.
As with all Italian celebrations and holidays, food plays an important part in the widely-celebrated and important Carnevale traditions. Food even has a bearing on the name. The Italian word Carnevale is derived from the ancient Italian for carne (meat) and vale (farewell). And that’s why Lent is preceded by massive parties and meals.
As with the Mardi Gras (which is French for ‘Fat Tuesday’ or, as it’s known in Italian ‘Martedì Grasso’) celebrations that will be held around the world, this date marks the opportunity to enjoy a final party – a day of eating and merrymaking – before the period of abstinence and fasting during Lent.
In many countries, Shove Tuesday is celebrated by eating pancakes, and we’ve got a great recipe for you to enjoy that has been created by our friend Charlotte, from the Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen blog. Scroll down and learn how to make her soft potato pancakes with melted Grana Padano cheese, a poached egg and topped with our very own Prosciutto di San Daniele.
But first, discover more about one of Italy’s biggest winter festivals – Carnevale – which usually lasts much longer than just one day. Some Italian cities have week-long celebrations while in our Friuli-Venezia Giulia region, we’ll be having fun with exhibitions, concerts and parties in the days before and up to Shrove Tuesday.
Venice hosts one of the largest and most famous of all the Carnevale events, Carnevale di Venezia, famous for its elaborate masks and costumes, parades, balls and parties.
Like many traditions still celebrated in Italy today, it’s thought that the ancient Romans started it all. Adopting pagan rituals and incorporating them into Christian culture, it is said that the ancient festivals of Saturnalia and Lupercalia eventually became, over time, incorporated into the Church’s marking of Easter.
After the food, family and friends that are enjoyed during Carnevale, it’s time to reflect on more spiritual matters during the 40 days of Lent leading up to Easter. But back to those pancakes, and even if it’s not part of your particular tradition, it will be hard to resist these tasty Grana Padano and Potato Pancakes with Prosciutto di San Daniele, from Charlotte’s Lively Kitchen.
Why pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? They’re a great way to use up all the rich foods that we are supposed to be avoided during Lent, including eggs, butter and sugar. Delicious at breakfast time or for a light lunch, the Prosciutto di San Daniele adds a sweetly salty touch to complement the eggs, cheese and pancakes. Buon appetito!