What is Fat Tuesday?
Fat Tuesday, Shrove Tuesday, Pancake Tuesday, Mardi Gras, Fettisdagen - they are all the same day recognizing the 40 days of fasting preceding Easter known as Lent. (Easter is 47 days after Shrove Tuesday; Lent lasts the first 40 leading to Palm Sunday.)
During Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday following Shrove Tuesday, many Christian denominations sacrifice foods that give pleasure and take time to reflect on the absolution and confession of sins. Rich or luxurious foods such as meats, sugar, dairy, and eggs are frequently the foods abstained from during Lent, so the day(s) before the Lenten fast are used as a way to consume those foods hanging around the pantry - basically fattening up before the fast and eating as many 'forbidden' foods as possible.
The Foods of Fat Tuesday
On Shrove Tuesday, Christian denominations all over the world (and even some of us without any religious loyalties), celebrate with ritualistic and ceremonial foods and events. Dancing, parades, music, costumes, and culinary excesses bring the flashy sights, sounds, and flavours of Mardi Gras to both streets and homes with regional and cultural variations.
In Canada, Pancake Day is exactly that, pancakes served everywhere for dinner, preferably with real maple syrup. In Brazil or other Portuguese or Italian speaking countries the day is celebrated with Carnival, which derives from the words, carne and levare, meaning "to take away meat" where malasadas, lard-fried pastries, are often served. In New Orleans, a celebration and carnival beginning on Epiphany Day ends with Mardi Gras, where lavish, colourful pastries called King Cakes are served. Typically a coin or baby Jesus doll is hidden inside the ring-shaped cake and whomever is served the trinket is responsible for making the cake for the next years festivities.
In Sweden, Fattisdagen is celebrated with another rich pastry, the semla. Semlor (plural of semla) are baked cardamom sweet buns filled with almond paste and whipped cream. Although the pastries were at one time only served on Fattisdagen, they now appear on bakery shelves as early as Christmas until as late as Easter. During Lent the buns are sometimes consumed for dessert each and every Tuesday in a bowl of warm milk, making every Tuesday Fattisdagen.
Rich? Check. Luxurious? Check. Sinful? Check check.
Semlor - Recipe
Makes approx. 25 small semlor
Eating. Drinking. Sharing.