Shrove Tuesday – Mardi Gras

So it’s Fat Tuesday – that’s what Mardi Gras means. What a great name. Traditionally it marks the last day of the ‘carnaval’ period that began at Epiphany and which ends with Lent (Carême). Quite who would have been celebrating all that while I’m not sure. Certainly not the ordinary people who would have been battling with the hardships of winter. We’ve found this winter hard going with all our twenty-first century accoutrements – electricity, running water (most of the time), central heating to boost our reliance on our wood burning stove, supermarkets etc. It must have been really, really miserable in times gone by.

But Mardi Gras is an excuse for a knees-up with dressing up and tucking into nice rich food. There was a good reason for the latter in the past. The Church forbade people to eat rich food like eggs and cream during lent so they had to use these ingredients up before it started. Pancakes – crepes – we all know about, but bugnes are also very common. These are little fried doughnuts. There are regional variations on the precise ingredients that go into them. The French cookery website www.750g.com has 1276 different recipes for bugne batter! More than one way of making them.

Ruadhri has only been at school for one Mardi Gras (he’s been on winter holidays for the others). That year the children were asked to come along in their déguisements, so the tradition of wearing costumes for this day is still going strong, among children at least. Ruadhri went as an ankylosaur!

We’re hoping Mardi Gras will see the last of the cold weather. It hasn’t been above freezing for nearly a week now and we’ve had our deepest snow too. That’s the third time we’ve been snowed in this winter. The novelty’s wearing off!

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