Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Shrove Tuesday

Pancake Party at mine tonight went well. It’s quite impressive how fast you can prepare food when you’re short of time (and didn’t do any preparation the night before as planned).

In one hour flat I made a huge quantity of fabulously fluffy batter, savoury fillings (veggie chilli and garlic mushrooms with cheese) and prepared a tray of ‘sweet’ options (pears, pineapple, banana, mandarin, whipped cream, Cointreau, lemons, sugar, syrup).

I’m not what one would call a domestic goddess so forgive me if I revel in this out of character achievement!

It all seemed to go down pretty well. Phil is clearly better (well judging by the return of the appetite!) and even Sarah and I polished off a fair few. Which was just as well really as M had to pull out at the last minute when she got offered some lucrative over time.

It was a shame not to be able to catch up with her, but she needs to get the money where she can and with a fairly demanding degree course, evening and weekend shifts are a matter of necessity.

So we’ll have to wait another year then to swap cultural takes on Shrove Tuesday – I was quite looking forward to the face M would no doubt pull when we introduced her to the fine and noble art of tossing the pancake. She has a fantastic way of letting you know that you and your culture are clearly quite, quite mad without ever being less than polite.

Though perhaps you don’t have to come from West Africa to be a little bemused by the whole pancake phenomenon. The topic of conversation at work this afternoon was “how come Pancake Day is so early this year?”. My response that it was because this year Easter fell so early, was met with blank looks and it became apparent at this point that none of them had any concept of what Shrove Tuesday or Ash Wednesday were about, let alone why they might have a chronological relationship with Easter.

It’s not that I had any expectation that they would have any great appreciation of the liturgical calendar, but I was surprised that they were merrily making plans for ‘Pancake Day’ with no curiosity as to the origins of the tradition. After all I guess most people have a least some grasp of the Pagan, Christian or political histories that give us Christmas/Yule, Easter and 5th November.

I suspect most of my colleagues would also know why the US celebrates 4th July, but it seems they can happily shovel batter, lemon and sugar down their necks all night without a thought as to why.

And of course they have every right to do so, I’m just intrigued as to their lack of curiosity and acceptance of traditions as being something we just ‘do’ without knowing why.

That said, once the subject had come up, they were keen to find out more, so I guess there is still some residual inquisitiveness.

Mind you, I think that mentioning Mardi Gras in the ensuing conversation may have been a step too far. The expressions on their faces suggested that this was akin to showing magic tricks to dogs.

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