South American inspired pancake day - cachapas recipe

pancake day, pampeano style

Pancake day has been celebrated in Britain for centuries. Known here as Shrove Tuesday, it is always the day before Ash Wednesday, or the first day of Lent. The name Shrove Tuesday is derived from the Christian custom of confessing sins and being absolved just before Lent. Traditionally, pancakes were eaten on this day to use up rich, indulgent foods like eggs and milk before the 40-day fasting season of Lent began. But although it is enshrined in Christian tradition, it is believed that Pancake Day might originate in a pagan holiday, when eating warm, round pancakes - symbolising the sun - was a way of heralding the arrival of spring.

pancake day around the world

Pancake Day is celebrated around the world, although it is known by other names such as Mardi Gras – meaning Fat Tuesday in French. In many Portuguese, Spanish and Italian-speaking countries, it is celebrated as Carnival - which derives from the words "carne levare" meaning to "take away meat" in a reference to fasting. It is often celebrated with colourful procession, music and fancy dress. The most famous event is the carnival in Rio de Janeiro, but in Argentina, you will also find carnival celebrations in Buenos Aires and Gualeguaychu.


South American pancakes

Here at pampeano, we are passionate about our heritage, so we wanted to share a taste of Pancake Day Latin American style. Colorful masks, elaborate costumes, parades and large crowds are all part of the Carnival on Shrove Tuesday. Murgas, or bands of marching percussionists and dancers, take to the streets. Despite the party atmosphere, murgas can be highly politically charged, and are a way for communities to unite and express themselves.

In Britain, we traditionally like our pancakes thin and delicate – similar to a French crepe – served with a sprinkling of sugar and a squeeze of lemon. But the South American equivalent, known as arepas or cachapas, are more substantial and usually served as a savory dish.

Arepas are small, fried or baked corn pancakes, made from ground maize dough, split in half and filled while warm with meat, beans, veggies and cheese. Here is a simple recipe for delicious Cachapas, in case you feel adventurous this pancake day.

Cachapas: Fresh South American Corncakes with Cheese


  • 3 cups corn

  • 1/4 cup masa harina

  • 1/2 cup grated mozzarella or queso mano 

  • splash of vegetable oil for frying

  • salt & pepper to taste


  • Start by grinding the corn kernels into a smooth pulp, then add the salt and pepper ?

  • Add the masa harina and blend all of the ingredients together

  • Once smooth, preheat a large pan and add the oil then spoon the batter into the pan, creating several rough circles

  • Cook each side for 3-5 minutes on a medium heat

  • Next, sprinkle each cachapa with the grated mozarella or queso mano and allow it to melt in slightly 

  • Fold each cachapa in half and enjoy

Source: Recipe Copyright Sasha Martin,

Dulce de Leche

Focusing on Argentina and a sweeter pancake option, Panqueques de Dulce de Leche are a very popular dessert. In fact, anything with Dulce de Leche usually is in Argentina and this would be a perfect kitchen addition to add some Argentine flavour to your desserts, crepes and pancakes.


Dulce de leche is a popular Argentine dessert; served either on its own, or laden in pastries and cakes. The deliciously sweet, thick, caramel-like sauce is the perfect ingredient to add some South American flavour into your cooking and is a great alternative to maple syrup or Nutella for sweet pancakes.


Authentic South American polo belts

Pancakes this good are best enjoyed in style, so to add some South American authenticity to your pancake day, pop on your favourite pampeano polo belt for a splash of colour and heritage. Hand-crafted in Argentina, a polo belt from pampeano is the perfect piece to honour the carnival festivities.

Below are some of pampeano's most vibrant designs.


Renowned worldwide for their exquisite quality, pampeano polo belts are individually hand-sewn in Argentina by traditional artisans, using the highest quality leather and natural wax-dipped threads. Each is a unique piece of art, steeped in South American heritage; which may need to be let out a notch or two on Pancake Day.