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Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras, is the day before the lenten season of fasting and abstinence begins. It is the culmination of the festival of Carnivale which begins with the celebration of the Epiphany which occurs twelve days after Christmas. In celebration of the last day before Lent, most people go all out with a special meal or in the case of a lot of people, a dinner of pancakes since Fat Tuesday is also known in parts of the world as Pancake Day. The reason being that people traditionally would use the last day before the lenten season to use up all their fat, eggs and dairy by making pancakes before Ash Wednesday to clean the cupboards, so to speak, of the rich and fattening foods that weren’t permitted during the fasting period.

We didn’t have pancakes for dinner (although that would have also been a good idea) instead, we had just about as fat a meal as one could get at the men’s requests– Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes with a provolone cheese sauce  on kaiser buns and scalloped potatoes au gratin.

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This is my trusty mandoline which is probably as old as at least one of the boys and is kept safe and sound in its cardboard box (together with its VHS instructional tape (give you an idea of how old it really is?) in the closet and is taken out for french fries, thinly sliced cucumber salad and for these potatoes. It made the work of thinly slicing four  pounds of potatoes a heck of lot easier — otherwise I might not be writing this now, but rather I might still be slicing potatoes.

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We had salad and I had steamed escarole too, just because we needed something green and relatively healthy.

Dessert will be double dark chocolate brownies that just got taken out of the oven instead of the King cake that a lot of people enjoy.

However you choose to celebrate — Happy Mardi Gras!

English: Atlantic Ocean (Feb. 6, 2008) Electro...

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Happy Ash Wednesday. Today is the day that Catholics and many (although not all) Christians around the world can be picked out in a crowd. They are the ones with the black marks on their foreheads. I have to say that when I was growing up, this was one of the favorite days to go to church. Odd as that might sound, as little kids going to Catholic school, we got ashes put on our foreheads and spent a good chunk of time after that, comparing and contrasting our marks, trying to decipher the cross — sometimes it was apparent but sometimes, it simply appeared as a black smudge on your forehead.

Ash Wednesday kicks off the Lenten season and starts counting down the 46 days until Easter Sunday.

Ashes are symbolic of repentance, sorrow and humility. We are reminded today of our mortality and humbled by the phrase “Thou are dust and to dust thou shall return” which is sometimes stated when the ashes are placed on your forehead (more when I was younger than now), although a more modern alternative isn’t quite as gloomy and speaks of repenting and returning to the Gospel.

Ash Wednesday begins the season of sacrifice and meatless meals. These are things that become engrained in you growing up. Fish on Fridays. Pizza becomes a meal staple, as does pasta.  My own house presents a bit of conundrum with the fish meals, since our youngest son is allergic to white fishes and my husband can’t eat shellfish, so we tend to lean to the meatless rather than the fish-full. Bummer since I happen to like fish, but c’est la vie.

Happy Ash Wednesday!

 

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Today is the day that is renown for pigging out, for excesses. Today is called many different things, Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Mardi Gras (which means “Fat Tuesday”). It is the day traditionally that all the flour and other fattening foods are used in the house to prepare for the forty days of Lent, which begins tomorrow. In some parts of the world, it is also called Pancake Day, since many cultures use up their flour to make pancakes that day.

Whether you choose to “pig out” and party on this day (many of us are working so I don’t know how much partying is going on for a Tuesday following a long weekend) or simply celebrate the day quietly or not at all, it seems a good day to make breakfast for dinner. Pancakes, easy, simple – my boys’ favorite dinner when Mom’s not home to cook.

Enjoy the day – Joyeux Mardi Gras!

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This is one of those days that I remember exactly how grateful I was for Catholic school. Today I need to figure out (or we think we did) how to get everyone to church for ashes since its Ash Wednesday. Complicating this is the fact that we live in Vermont, which isn’t particularly Catholic and the churches don’t quite have the volume of services that we grew accustomed to in New Jersey because of it. Even better were my sons’ looks when I threw out the possibilities for a decision. Why can’t we just go after school or at night (well those choices just don’t exist here) When the boys were in Catholic school, I knew that they went to church during the day and the only one who had to go was me. While life here is simpler in many ways, in other ways it can be more complicated. If this is as complicated as my day is today, I am grateful.

Pancake Day is one of the names for today. Other more common days are Shrove Tuesday or Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday). Traditionally, in Christian countries it is the last day before the beginning of Lent which is a season meant to demonstrate abstinence and fasting. Pancake Day originated in the United Kingdom and was called such since pancakes were one food that used the rich ingredients (fat, eggs, cream) that were off-limits during the fasting season of Lent.

Whatever you call it, today is the day – the last day to do or have whatever is considered decadent, rich and over the top before succumbing to the frugal and puritanical ways of Lent. The Big Picture has some really awesome scenes of carnival from around the world. Check it out as the imagery is wonderful.  Whether you’re eating pancakes today or chocolate or having that last drink before tomorrow, enjoy – Happy Pancake Day to you!

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