Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Shrove Tuesday

Well, I was introduced to another central part of British culture today which I thought I would pass on to my loyal readers. In fact, it's so central, my flatmates were pretty shocked to discover that the rest of the world has never heard of such a thing as: Pancake Day. Yes, while we celebrate Mardi Gras with a carnival of disguises and reckless abandon, the British spend their last hours of freedom before the spartan days of Lent feasting in near-sinful decadence upon that most nefarious of luxuries, the pancake. The purpose of this tradition, which apparently goes back hundreds of years, is to use up all the "rich foods" in the house, such as, apparently, eggs, milk, butter, and flour. Which seem to me more like staple baking supplies rather than dangerous tempting substances. But maybe that's just my overindulged American mindset. Anyway, I prefer this type of tradition to drunkenness and debauchery any day of the week (especially Tuesday), so more power to the British, I say!

To initiate me into this apparently universal tradition, I was invited to a pancake party at the home of Sara (fantastic Scottish woman from Skeptics--see Nuthurst photos for a visual), who lives on campus in Lewes Court, in an amazing room with a stove and oven right there in the bedroom. Crazy! A bunch of the folks from last weekend gathered. Apparently no one quite knew the proper proportions for pancakes, by which they really mean a thin, large, crepe-like disc made with flour, milk, and eggs, and topped with lemon juice and sugar in liberal proportions. These are meant to be not turned by spatula, but flipped at great peril by an abrupt upwards jerk of the pan, as seen mainly, in my experience, in books and humorous movies. A rather disastrous but hilarious enterprise therefore ensued, with rather deformed, rubbery, and partly blackened results which were nevertheless quite tasty, if not the most aesthetically pleasing foods I've ever consumed.

I had to leave this gathering early to head off to Bible study, but when that finished I got one more taste (ha, no pun intended!) of the festivities as we all headed down the hall to the center of the Christian Union's pancake delivery project, which allowed students to phone up and order free, freshly-made pancakes delivered right to their doorstep. So I spent another hour praying over and delivering pancakes. Am seriously considering exporting this fantastic tradition to the States. Anyone interested in helping me? Try it--thanks to the time difference, if you read this in time you still have the chance to be the vanguard of the American Pancake Day Movement! Spread the pancake love to your friends and family. Happy Lent to all, and to all a good night!


Anonymous Anonymous said...

how great is pancake day although i kinda prefer the drunken escapades of mardi gras myself anyways i hope all is going well with you we need to meet up one of these days

5:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Hi there, this is Evan from UPS. I just found this link (I had completely forgotten you were doing this.) I'm so happy to hear how well things are going (minus the expected homesickness). The pictures look wonderful! I speak for lots of people when I say that we miss you here! Keep loving every moment and sharing them so that we can as well.

Take care,

1:40 AM  
Blogger Knightley said...

Waffle Day!

12:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cape Cod Potato Chip Day!!!!!!! And do not forget to introduce Oven Mitt Dance Party to the UK!

Much love!

8:14 PM  

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