Combining ancient traditions with our love for our food

By ELEANOR MCGILLIE 9 February, 2016

So today is Pancake Tuesday and everyone is getting ready to flip. Blogger Nel 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. We will be focusing more this year on whether 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 which 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 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.

This year Pancake Tuesday falls in the middle of the Love Local month in our Northern Ireland Year of Food and Drink calendar – 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.

In County 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 to celebrate Pancake Tuesday during their tea breaks. The independent supermarket, which has been operating for 125 years, has stocked its shelves with pancakes and toppings from local suppliers – enough to make any office Pancake Tuesday party one to remember.

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! #liveitexperienceit

Live It Experience It’ is a group of journalists and travel writers who tell the story of our members. We work  collaboratively with our members, which are tourism businesses, to promote Northern Ireland through water, air and land based activities, food and drink and great places to stay. Together we let our visitors know of all of the amazing things Northern Ireland has to offer.  To become a member business in of ‘Live It Experience It’ call our office on 028 3756 8436 or please submit your information through our online form. T&Cs apply –  Sign Up Here Let us tell your story! Live It Experience It is the NW200 tourism partner for 2018. 

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Eleanor McGillie

About Eleanor McGillie

Eleanor spent eight years working in the south west of England - one of the UK's most popular tourism hotspots. During her stint working with key players in the tourism sector she developed a love for all things outdoor adventure. As a journalist she got to travel to remote corners of the world to write travel features about the experiences of a particular place. Northern Ireland's story needs to be told and needs to reach new audiences. Live It Experience It aims to attract tourists from outside Ireland, people from Ireland and people who live in Northern Ireland but aren't aware of the extent of the adventures on our own doorsteps. Eleanor is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) at Associate Level