Today is Shrove Tuesday, colloquially known as ‘Pancake Day’ to many of us. It’s an excuse to try our culinary hand, embark on the quest for the perfect pancake as we toss our creations high in to the air and enhance them with all manner of fillings, including more lemon and sugar than we’d normally consume in a month. That said, there is much more to the humble pancake than our yearly sugar-rush blow-out and a cruise, you’ll have the opportunity to sample a number of different pancake dishes in a number of different countries around the world.
Possibly the most famous member of our overseas pancake family. Dutch pancakes are pretty similar to our own and are officially known as ‘Pannekoek’. However, they’re much thinner and typically a foot across if made correctly. Favourite Dutch savoury fillings include bacon and cheese, while the sweeter versions include apples and raisins. Treacle is another popular topping when pancakes are served plain.
Trying a Dutch pancake
Just book any European cruise which includes Amsterdam on its itinerary and you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to pancake houses to visit. Dutch pancakes are popular in Belgium too, so if Zeebrugge is on your itinerary, you’ll be able to try one there.
Known in some American states as hotcakes, American pancakes are a breakfast staple and somewhat thicker and smaller than our British creations. In keeping with a breakfast serving, blueberry pancakes are universally popular, while in North America, bananas are a favourite addition. Of course, maple syrup is what most of us will probably associate American pancakes with and they’re traditionally served with lashings of the stuff, any time of the day.
Trying an American pancake
There are plenty of destination options when it comes to the US, whether it’s a North America and Canada cruise, an East Coast and Caribbean sailing or a journey down the West Coast. The topping you’ll get depends on where you cruise, aside from the maple syrup which is served everywhere and usually yours to pour on as you wish.
The French pancake is known as a Crepe and indeed this is a term used universally to describe the thin type of pancake that we’re familiar with in the UK. French crepes then, are very similar if not identical to our own and this extends to the fillings too, with sugar being very popular. However, in France you’ll find them served much more often and for lunch and dinner as well. Mushrooms, ham, egg and cheese are all common savoury fillings, while preserves are popular when they’re served as a dessert.
Trying a French pancake
If your European cruise stops in Marseilles or your Mediterranean voyage takes in the south of France, you’ll have every opportunity to try a traditional French pancake. Like Dutch pancakes, French pancakes are enjoyed in Belgium, too.
In Japan, pancakes are traditionally savoury and are known as ‘Okonomiyaki’. The name has its origins in the phrase ‘what you like’ and indeed, that’s a feature of these pancakes; the contents and size of which will vary depending on which region of Japan you’re in. If you’re in Tokyo for example, you’ll find that your pancake is smaller than the one you’d have in Hiroshima. In a sense, these pancakes are more like omelettes, in that they can be made with vegetables mixed into the batter. Shredded cabbage, onion and seafood are all popular ingredients.
Trying a Japanese pancake
The Far East is a culinary smorgasbord and as such, if your cruise takes you to Japan, you’ll have the opportunity to sample Okonomiyaki, wherever you are in the country. If your cruise takes you to Osaka however, you’ll be able to try a pancake in the very city where the dish is said to have originated.
Like our own, Chinese pancakes are thin but are very different in the sense that they are usually made from dough rather than batter. There are a number of different sub-variants and favourite fillings including fruit, green onions, meat bean paste and lotus paste. Interestingly, they’re often served with patterns and writing on them.
Trying a Chinese pancake
Chinese pancakes differ depending on which region of the country you’re visiting. If you’re visiting Beijing for example, you’ll be able to try Laobing, which is an unleavened flatbread, while if you’re in Shanghai, a pancake can form part of a popular street food breakfast, namely Jian Bing Guo Zi – a sort of pancake breakfast burrito filled with egg, pickle and green onions.