Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Tuesday Fritters.

Today, February 7th …

This day in 1665 was a Tuesday - Shrove Tuesday to be exact - and Samuel Pepys recorded his dinner in his diary:

“Up, and to my office, where busy all morning. At noon, at dinner, it being Shrove Tuesday, had some very good fritters.”

In the Christian calendar Shrove Tuesday is the last day before the beginning of Lent, when the faithful abstain from fleshly things for 40 days. It is the day to feast before saying “Farewell to Meat” (Carne Vale) and to use up the last of the eggs and milk and butter in a frenzy of fritter and pancake-making (hence “Pancake Tuesday”).

What is the difference between fritters and pancakes? Not much really. Both start with a batter of flour, milk, and eggs. A pancake is made by frying a small amount in a pan to form a thin cake (a pan cake – get it?), which becomes French if you call it a crêpe. This simple pancake is usually served with butter, or sugar or lemon or orange juice. It may, however, be filled by rolling it or folding it around something. If something is dipped in the raw batter and then fried, it becomes a fritter. Of course, not all fritters and pancakes abide strictly by this rule, but you get the general idea.

A religious excuse is not necessary to enjoy pancakes and fritters. They have been made and enjoyed since time immemorial in countries and cultures where the basic ingredients are found. They are easy to make and fun to eat - unless you have fallen victim to the campaigns of the world-wide Food Police who would have us banned from anything requiring

Here is selection from across the ages, just to prove their versatility.

For to make Fruturs.[Apple fritters with saffron and ginger]
Nym flowre and eyryn and grynd peper and safroun and mak therto a batour and par aplyn and kyt hem to brode penys and kest hem theryn and fry hem in the batour wyth fresch grees and serve it forthe.
[From: The Form of Cury, 1390.]

Samacays. [Curd cheese fritters]
Take vellyd cruddys or they be pressyd; do hem yn a cloth. Wryng out the whey. Do hem in a mortar; grynd hem well with paryd floure & temyr hem with eyryn & creme of cow mylke, & make thereof a rennyng bature. Than have white grece in a panne: loke hit be hote. Take up the bature with a saucer & let hit renne in the grece; draw thy hond backward that hit may renne abrode. Then fry hem ryte well & somdell hard reschelyng & serve hit forth in disches, & strew on white sygure.
[From: An Ordinance of Pottage, by Constance B Hieatt; from a 15th C manuscript]

To make Fritters of Spinnedge [Spinach].
Take a good deale of Spinnedge, and washe it cleane, then boyle it in faire water, and when it is boyled, then take it forth and let the water runne from it, then chop it with the backe of a knife, and then put in some egges and grated Bread, and season it with suger, sinamon, ginger, and pepper, dates minced fine, and currans, and rowle them like a ball, and dippe them in Butter made of Ale and flower.
[From: The Good Housewife's Jewell by Thomas Dawson 1596]

To make Fritters.
Take halfe a pint of Sack, a pint of Ale, some Ale-yeast, nine Eggs, yolks and whites, beat them very well, the Egg first, then altogether, put in some Ginger, and Salt, and fine flower, then let it stand an houre or two; then shred in the Apples; when you are ready to fry them, your suet must be all Beef-suet, or halfe Beef, and halfe Hoggs-suet
tryed out of the leafe.
[From: The Compleat Cook, 1658]

P.S. This year Shrove Tuesday falls on February 20th, so you have time to practice. If the ones given above do not suit you, here are the links to other suitable recipes for fritters and pancakes featured in previous stories.

How Water Pancakes are made by poor People (1750)

Apple Fritters (1869)

Salsify Fritters (1870’s)

Kidney Fritters (1870’s)

Pets de putain (Farts of a Whore) – which are fritters by a funnier name. (1653)

Pink Pancakes (1797)

To make Raspberry Fritters (1769)

Bacon Froise (1695) – which is somewhere between an omelette and a pancake.

Australian Pancakes (1971) – an Englishman’s view.

Crêpes Suzette – the mystery.

Tomorrow’s Story …
First, Kill your Pig.

A Previous Story for this Day …

One of the cookbooks of Ambrose Heath was featured on this day.

Quotation for the Day …

I will here say nothing of the fact that some fast in such a way that they nonetheless drink themselves full; some fast by by eating fish and other foods so lavishly that they would come much nearer to fasting if they ate meat, eggs and butter, and by so doing would obtain far better results from their fasting. For such fasting is not fasting, but a mockery of fasting and of God. Martin Luther.


Anonymous said...

In the American South, we have fritters, but the ones I'm familiar with are not necessarily dipped. For example, the cornmeal fritters made by my mother (and me) consist of cornmeal, baking powder, a bit of sugar, boiling water and buttermilk - we also like to add a couple of handfuls of fresh corn cut off the cob (or frozen out of season) and finely sliced green onions. The ingredients form a thick-ish batter (not as thin as pancake batter, more edging towards cake batter) which is dropped by spoonfuls into hot fat and fried until golden and crispy on both sides. Leave out the onions, and these fritters are served with maple syrup for breakfast. Of course, my mother may have called them fritters erroneously.

The Old Foodie said...

Hi Nene - Yes, the naming of pancakes and fritters is an inexact thing, isnt it? I dont think your mother was making a mistake at all. I guess you could say there is a pancake-batter spectrum. Anyway, her corn fritters sound fantastic, I might try them for breakfast at the weekend.

Anonymous said...

I don't have an exact recipe - it's more one of those "by eye" things - but you start out with a cup or two of cornmeal, depending on how many you want to make, then pour boiling water over to form a soft (but not watery) mush. Put in a bit of sugar - spoonful, maybe - some baking powder for lift, and enough buttermilk to form a thick-ish batter. Be sure the cooking fat is hot but not smoking hot. Drop by spoonfuls (I use the side of the spoon and sort of carefull poke them flat). Cook until golden and crispy on both sides, drain on paper towels. Serve with maple syrup, bacon, sausages, etc. :-) Good eatin'!