Saturday, February 2, 2013

La Chandeleur

French Village Diaries La Chandeleur pancake recipe
A younger Ed making pancakes

For a country famed for it’s manyfood related fêtes and traditions it will come as no surprise to hear that France celebrates not one, but two pancake days, and today is one of those days. 

February 2nd is Candlemass Day or La Chandeleur in France and marks the halfway point between the shortest day and the spring equinox as well as the Catholic feast of the purification of the Virgin Mary 40 days after Christmas. There are traditions all over the world for today and many involve the weather:

If Candlemass Day be fair and bright,
Winter will have another fight.
If Candlemass Day brings cloud and rain,
Winter won’t come again.

Anyone out there want to take a bet on what winter still has in store for us as the sun is shining as I write this, but less than five minutes ago we had squally winds and rain that turned to hail stones? Whatever the weather has in store there are signs everywhere that we have turned a corner, I have seen my first cowslip, daisies and a few violets and our hazelnut trees are covered in catkins. The bulbs are all looking good too, but no flowers just yet. Another sign of impending spring is our itching to feel the dirt beneath our fingernails as we start sowing the seeds for the summer potager crops, especially the courgettes, tomatoes and chillis. It won’t be long before we get our little greenhouse out again, but we’ll wait a while for the wind to die down.

Tonight all over France families will be celebrating La Chandeleur eating pancakes together. The tradition is to hold a coin in your writing hand whilst flipping the pancake with the other –if you manage to catch the pancake your family will be prosperous for the rest of the year – well it can’t do any harm to try can it? We will be participating, Ed has assisted in making the batter and good old Brucie the goose has provided the egg. Here is my pancake recipe:

175g (6oz) plain flour
2 large eggs (or one goose egg!)
175ml (6fl oz) milk, mixed with 120ml (4fl oz) water

Sift the flour into a bowl, make a well in the middle to crack the eggs into. Start whisking the eggs and the flour will slowing become incorporated, then add the liquid a little at a time. Ensure all flour is incorporated, whisk until smooth, then leave to rest for about half an hour before using. The great thing about pancakes is that you can serve them with so many things, but homemade jam tops our list of favourites.

Do you celebrate today? If so, how?