Sheffield history: Memories of Shrove Tuesday and pancakes - a great day whether you're religious or not

Shrove Tuesday came and went this week, with pancakes being flipped and dropped on the floor all over the country. People make pancakes in a multitude of styles to suit tastes with savoury and sweet versions, healthy and not so healthy.

By errol edwards
Friday, 4th March 2022, 2:13 pm
Updated Friday, 4th March 2022, 2:13 pm

The good thing about Pancake Day is you don’t need to know the origin of Shrove Tuesday or pancakes to participate and enjoy.

Shrove Tuesday, like many of our popular traditions, has religious connotations.

As observed by many Christians and non-Christians, it’s a day which entails plenty of eating and possibly overindulging as, traditionally, all the good stuff is used up before the period of giving things up that follows.

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play2aw Pancake race at Woodhouse, 1975

This eating festival is a prelude to Lent, a season of fasting, penitence and reflection lasting for 40 days starting on Ash Wednesday.

When Lent is completed we celebrate Easter, another important religious date, with more food (chocolate) and celebration, coupled with two bank holidays, hopefully in glorious spring sunshine.

Thinking of Pancake Day reminded me of my days at school, when pancake day was quite an exciting time.

At school, we had cooking lessons, which I think went on to become home economics and finally as I remember domestic science, I don’t remember any other names.

A domestic science class at High Storrs School in 1963

I believe this was a trilogy of subjects including woodwork and metal work.

These subjects gave pupils an opportunity to try and learn a little about these practical subjects sampling all three throughout the year.

Although I took compulsory cooking lessons I don’t ever remember any girls in my woodwork or metal work lessons.

The education structure has changed greatly now where girls are encouraged and are keen to partake in what were the more male-dominated topics.

I remember cooking lessons at my middle and high schools as something that was not taken very seriously by most boys.

Cooking and home economics are possibly not seen as a traditional career route for many men.

On the contrary the ability to cook and provide meals for yourself and others is an important skill and career for many in hospitality.

These days celebrity chefs have become household names and millionaires.

Fanny Cradock was the only chef I could name from my school days.

I remember my lessons and the classroom kitchens that they took place in.

The smells hit you well before you entered the room.

Either a sweet, cake or biscuit aroma or lovely savoury odours, these lessons seemed to take place in the afternoons when all had had their lunch, which was a good move.

The ingredients for these lessons weren’t free; you could either bring your own or pay a small fee – I always remember my brothers and sisters meticulously weighing the ingredients for the next day.

Then that evening they would come home with their tin containing whatever they had cooked or baked and it would be eagerly devoured by the family.