Pancake Tuesday!

Today is Pancake Day, which, as I am at best, Church of England, and at worst, an irreligious heathen, I had never heard of until last February. Last year, I walked into the local Bandon Supervalue and saw signs up everywhere wishing me a happy ‘Pancake Day’, and a woman cooking up free pancakes with lemon and sugar. It was a very surreal moment, where I genuinely felt completely out of place in the country I was in, uncertain of what to do or what to think (like the moment I was walking around Belfast and went to look in a shopping centre’s window and thought, ‘Gosh, what’s with all those miniature bridal gowns? Are there a lot of vertically challenged people getting married around Belfast?’ Before realising that, of course, they were holy communion dresses…). What was this pancake day? Was it like the Big Morning Tea in Australia? Was it raising money for some charity? Was it something made up by Supervalue to shift sales of pre-packaged pancakes as well as flour, milk, eggs, sugar and syrup? When I went home to check with the host family, I discovered it was a ‘Catholic thing’, where you are meant to use up all the rich (and indulgent) ingredients in your house before Lent begins.
Last year, in an attempt at self-punishment (flimsily disguised as an attempt at ‘being part of the culture’), I thought I might give up something for Lent. Hell, I was going to give up absolutely everything for Lent. Sugar, chocolate, cakes, cheese, biscuits, ice-cream, alcohol… you name it, I was going to give it up. This year, I know better and will not attempt to do so. But, I felt Pancake Tuesday was something I could get on board with this year. That is to say, I could eat pancakes on the specified day. Baking all my forbidden ingredients into a single day’s pancakes, eating them all and then not buying anymore until Easter is, of course another matter.
I spoke to a few people over the weekend who rhapsodised so passionately about Pancake Tuesday that I got very excited taking part this year (I did not partake in pancakes last year as an extended form of self-punishment/attempted cultural experience). It was their ‘favourite day of the year’. I felt this was high praise indeed, considering Pancake Tuesday had birthdays, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, Easter, St. Patrick’s Day, New Year’s Day, Christmas Eve, Boxing Day, Australia Day, St. David’s Day, International Women’s Day, May Day, Waitangi Day, Guy Fawkes Day, Yom Kippur, various Independence Days, Carnivale, the Queen’s Birthday, Thanksgiving, Remembrance Day, Bhutan’s ‘Blessed Rainy Day’,  Azerbaijan’s ‘Victory over Fascism Day’ and Suriname’s ‘Day of the Run Away Slaves’ (which, let’s face it, all sound pretty darn exciting, and where is Suriname, anyway?) as well as innumerable other international days to contend with. So, when I walked into my favourite cafe at lunchtime and saw the extensive list of potential pancakes I could partake of for Pancake Tuesday (a whole 6!), I was delighted.
Not having had my lunch yet, and not being particularly hungry, I decided to avoid some of the more fanciful concoctions, such as chocolate and hazelnut sauce, or bacon and maple syrup (plus, there was that whole ‘vegetarian’ thing), settling on a berry and cream. Three perfect pancake circles came out 10 minutes later.
Well, I don’t know what to say, except, after all that build up, it was pretty darn boring. The pancakes were dry, not particularly sweet (had the kitchen already used up all their sugar and were preemptively not buying any more in case they ended up with leftover and would then be tempted to make pancakes for the rest of Lent?). I had images of pancakes dripping berry sauce, and great big, soft dollops of whipped cream creeping down the plate. Not so. A bit icing sugar, and a tiny bowl of cream with, say 3 berries in it and a slight pink tinge. Disappointing, I must say. I have a feeling they may have been more exciting if I truly felt I was giving them up for the next little while (either that, or they would have been even more disappointing). But, I hardly ever eat pancakes anyway. In fact, I never do. So, all in all, I think Christmas remains my favourite day of the year.

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Now, if someone was to create a Cheesecake Day, before a Healthy Eating Month, perhaps I would change my mind…


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