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Eastern European Shrove Thursday and Shrove Tuesday Recipes

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Most Eastern Europeans celebrate Shrove Thursday AND Shrove Tuesday, known as Fat Tuesday or Mardi Gras in the States, with special foods. In the old days, meat, dairy and eggs were abstained from during the entire Lenten period (Orthodox Christians still do this). So ingenious cooks rid their pantries of temptations the week before Ash Wednesday with a climax on Shrove Tuesday of rich, fat-laden feasts that included thick and thin pancakes, deep-fried doughnuts and pastries. While the fasting is usually less rigorous these days, the food traditions survive. Here is more about how Fat Thursday and Fat Tuesday are celebrated in Eastern Europe.

1. Bulgarian Shrove Tuesday Recipes

Bulgarian Doughnut
© VENi Petrov on Flickr
Kukeri is the Bulgarian equivalent of carnival when men parade through villages wearing hairy costumes, masks and large bells designed to scare evil spirits and chase winter away. It's a time for much celebrating and feasting on meats, rich foods and mekitsi, fried doughnuts similar to Serbian krofne, and palachinki similar to Serbian palacinke. In the Bulgarian Orthodox tradition, Lent begins on Zagovezni, the Sunday six weeks before Easter.

2. Croatian Shrove Tuesday Recipes

Croatian Krostule or Angel Wings
© Flickr by WhitePlateBlogspot.com
Carnival in Croatia is known as karnevale or maskare. Week-long festivities usually culminate on the Sunday before Ash Wednesday. Palacinke, thin crepe-like pancakes, fritule, fried doughnuts, and krostule are eaten with gusto.

3. Czech Shrove Tuesday Recipes

Czech Koblihy
© RC PoP Art on Flickr
Masopust, which loosely means "farewell to meat," is the Czech Shrovetide or carnival, which runs from the Epiphany to Ash Wednesday. Masks and costumes designed to scare away evil spirits and old man winter are worn, and Fat Thursday is celebrated with a Zabijacka, or hog feast. Pork and sauerkraut are eaten in abundance, along with thin crepe-like pancakes known as palacinky (similar to Serbian palacinke), thicker pancakes known as livance and doughnuts known as koblihy (similar to Polish paczki filled with jam or fruit filling, nougat or pastry cream.

4. Hungarian Shrove Tuesday Recipes

Hungarian Palacsinta
© 2010 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Carnival in Hungary is known as Farsang. People dress in furry costumes and scary masks. Palacsinta, thin crepe-like pancakes, fank, fried doughnuts similar to paczki, and fargacsfank, fried angel wings similar to chrusciki are served.

5. Lithuanian Shrove Tuesday Recipes

Lithuanian Pancakes or Blynai
© 2010 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Carnival in Lithuania is known as Uzgavenes. Scary masks are worn to frighten away evil spirits and to discourage winter from sticking around. Dollar-size pancakes known as blynai, representing the return of the sun because of their round shape, are eaten with honey or fruit preserves, as well as thinner crepe-like pancakes known as nalesnikiyai, similar to Polish nalesniki, and spurgos, or fried doughnuts, are served.

6. Polish Shrove Thursday and Shrove Tuesday Recipes

Polish Paczki
© 2010 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Carnival season in Poland is celebrated from Twelfth Night until Ash Wednesday. Tłusty Czwartek or Fat Thursday (also known as Shrove Thursday) is when paczki are eaten with abandon. On Shrove Tuesday or Ostatki, pickled herrings and vodka are consumed in great quantities. This is also known as Śledziówka . In the States, Paczki Day is synonymous with Shrove Tuesday. Nalesniki, thin crepe-like pancakes, and angel wings known as chrusciki ("little twigs") or faworki (little favors reminiscent of ribbons knights gave to their ladies fair), are also enjoyed. An overlooked Shrove Tuesday dessert is rozie karnawalowe or carnival rosettes.

7. Romanian Recipes

Romanian Papanasi
© Pirate Pixels on Flickr
Romanians are primarily Orthodox Christians so, llike Serbians, Russians and Ukrainians, they don't celebrate Shrove Tuesday, but Cheesefare Sunday instead. Doughnuts called gogosi or papanasi filled with chocolate, jam, cheese or other fillings are gobbled up. They're similar to Polish paczki. Likewise, clatite, similar to Polish nalesniki are enjoyed.

8. Russian Maslenitsa Recipes

Russian Blini
© Culinary Fool on Flickr
Carnival in Russia is known as Maslenitsa. This weeklong celebration, also known as Pancake Week, focuses on blini, which are dollar-size yeast-raised pancakes topped with caviar, sour cream and smoked salmon, or sweet toppings. Their round shape and warm serving temperature are evocative of the sun, so desperately wanted by this time of year. Thinner, crepe-like pancakes known as blinchiki and doughnuts called pyshki are also served.

9. Serbian Cheesefare Sunday Recipes

Serbian Prijesnac
© Flickr by Mellie
For Orthodox Serbians, Shrove Tuesday doesn't exist. Meatfare Sunday begins one week before Ash Wednesday and is the last day meat and meat byproducts can be consumed. If there is such a thing as a swansong to rich foods, it would be Cheesefare Sunday, which takes place three days before Ash Wednesday, when palacinke and krofne are eaten. So Lent begins on Clean Monday, two days before Roman Catholics and other Christians begin Lent. After this Cheesefare swansong, most Orthodox Christians eat no meat, meat byproducts, poultry, dairy or eggs for the entire Lenten period. Here is a list of foods OK to eat for Serbian Lent and a list of Serbian Lenten recipes.

10. Slovak Shrove Tuesday Recipes

Fried Doughnut
© Eperke on Flickr
In Slovakia, Fašiangy (Carnival) takes place from Three Kings' Day to midnight on Shrove Tuesday. As in many other Eastern European countries, there are celebrations with parades of men dressed in wooly costumes and masks to scare away the winter. Feasting centers around slanina (bacon), Šišky, fried doughnuts similar to Polish paczki and pampúchy, similar to Ukrainian / Russian pampushki.

11. Slovenian Shrove Tuesday Recipes

Serbian Doughnuts or Krofne
© Snddsn on Flickr
Carnival in Slovenia is known as Kurentovanje after the furry costumes that are worn in the largest celebration in Ptuj. Slovenians feast on palacinke and carnival doughnuts known as krofi, similar to Serbian krofne.

12. Ukrainian Recipes

Russian / Ukrainian Pampushki
© 2010 Barbara Rolek licensed to About.com, Inc.
Most Ukrainians are Orthodox Christians and observe Cheesefare Sunday when pork and sauerkraut are eaten along with khrustyky, angel wings similar to Polish chrusciki, pampushki, nalysnyky, thin crepe-like pancakes like Polish nalesniki, and thicker dollar-size pancakes like Russian blini.
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