Tuesday, February 05, 2008

shrove is the past tense of shrive

Today is Shrove Tuesday, or Pancake Tuesday, as we like to call it.

Wikipedia says:

The word shrove is a past tense of the English verb "shrive," which means to obtain absolution for one's sins by confessing and doing penance. Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the shriving (confession) that Anglo-Saxon Christians were expected to receive immediately before Lent.

Oh my.

We were not a religious family, but I grew up eating pancakes on this day every year and I kind of like the tradition. So it's pancakes for dinner tonight, or rather crepes, since living in Europe makes one just so cultured and sophisticated. Ha ha.

oh la la!

In Germany, Rosenmontag, the day before Shrove Tuesday, is the big event, the highlight of the Karneval season. Sort of a German Mardi Gras with costumes, parades and parties everywhere.

Among the traditional Karneval party foods and beverages like Krapfen (jelly doughnuts) and beer, beer and more beer, you'll often find these cookies, called Amerikaner. They are cake-like with the icing on the flat side instead of on top and are usually decorated with coloured sprinkles or small candies.

There are a couple of theories as to how the cookie got its name, the first explanation being the most probable.

1) Amerikaner is an abbreviation of Ammoniumhydrogencarbonatikaner in reference to the leavening agent ammonium bicarbonate once used to make them.

2) The famous New York black and white cookie was imported from the U.S. to Germany in the 50's and because the Germans had trouble pronouncing the name, the cookie was christened Amerikaner.

Believe what you like, these taste really great and kids just love them. Here's the recipe I used (in German) with some cute pictures.

Northern Germany doesn't really go in for huge events as they do in more southerly regions, but the boys' school celebrated Karneval (or Fasching as they call it in this area) yesterday in the lower grades. Boy11 got dressed up in his best hippie outfit.

Which way to Woodstock, man?

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At February 05, 2008 4:41 p.m., Blogger Thimbleanna said...

I'd never heard of this pancake tradition until I posted my aebelskivers last week, then I got a few comments -- guess I was a week too early LOL! I love those cookies -- yum! Thanks for the recipe -- I love to compare new recipes to the ones I've tried. Spiffy little hippie you've got there!

At February 05, 2008 5:01 p.m., Blogger swenglishexpat said...

I must confess, those Amerikaner look potentially sinfully delicious! Mmmm.....

At February 05, 2008 6:42 p.m., Blogger Diane Mandy said...

I hadn't heard of the pancake tradition until this post. What qualifies as Southern Germany. I live in the Pfalz region and was invited to my first Karnival parade. It was quite a good time!

At February 05, 2008 7:58 p.m., Blogger G in Berlin said...

The cookies look great and except for the colored icing, exactly like the black and whites I would buy one of every day on the way to work in NYC- so I would vote for #2 :-)
Here in Berlin Karneval is not like that on the Romantic Route, but the parade was still loads of fun for the kids and we spent a few hours at it.
Why do recipes in Germany use pudding pulver? Right now I am baking out of American cookbooks because I don't want to use all the fat and packaged ingredients (like pudding pulver, off the shelf tart shells, and glaze powder). Can I replace pudding pulver with an actual ingredient?

At February 05, 2008 9:36 p.m., Blogger J said...

Actually, the word Fasching is used down here as well as Karneval. Is it becoming a bigger thing up there or just for kids?

At February 06, 2008 3:30 a.m., Blogger Silvia said...

Wow, you made the Amerikaner from scratch??? I never attempted to do that, because I don't care for them,mainly because of the weird taste it leaves in your mouth, simular to eating a cake donut. But I remember them from when I was little, my mom bought them all the time. Back then they only had black and white frosting.
@g in berlin:
The pudding powder is nothing else than starch with vanilla flavor and food color.You can substitute that with starch and add some more vanilla or something else.:)
I am from the Pfalz too, I never had pancakes on Rosenmontag, but "Fischbroetchen" on Fat Tuesday and homemade "Berliner" without Jelly!:)

At February 06, 2008 7:56 a.m., Anonymous ian in hamburg said...

You know you're getting old when you see people going to costume parties in what you used to see all the time when you were a kid. He looks great!

At February 06, 2008 8:42 a.m., Blogger beaverboosh said...

It is Wednesday and I am still confessing, can you please keep some pancakes (crepes) warm for me! BB

At February 07, 2008 4:32 a.m., Anonymous Anonymous said...


Once a German friend "celebrated" by buying this kuchen. Rather like CORN and KIDNEY beans in anything Germans called "american," I looked carefully at my Amerikaner. Host noticed and asked "Is something the matter?" I said, "I've lived in the States for 60 years, and I never EVER saw this item." Perhaps I've not had the GOOD ones but ... leave it in the States. :-)


At February 08, 2008 3:59 p.m., Blogger swenglishexpat said...

Hi Christina. You've been tagged for a little bookie-type meme, quick and easy. Drop in and find out!

At February 12, 2008 11:50 a.m., Blogger Ginnie said...

Karneval totally passed us by this year, Christina, I'm afraid. Too much going on! We just found out that D's mom has liver cancer, which seems to be progressing very quickly. She's only 67! D doesn't want this broadcast in a post...so I'm telling people behind the scenes. We're busy back-n-forth between her place and ours! More later.

At February 12, 2008 3:08 p.m., Blogger Jody said...

Those cookies looks so yummy.


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