James McGlade describes his experience of the delicious yearly delicacy. You can't beat a good pancake now...
Pancake Tuesday has always been a day of joy, one where love wasn’t hard to find – and it usually came boasting of its versatility. Yes, in an ever-changing world we could rely on the certain delights of pancakes on one Tuesday of the year. No stress, no guilt, no philosophical nitpicking.
Or at least that’s what I thought.
When I woke up this morning there was only one thing on my mind: pancakes, obviously. There should have been no anxiety to see what came after that colon, this is an article about pancakes.
Anyway, I didn’t wish to waste any time. "Where’s the dish of the day?" I bellowed, in thought form. Despite consulting the calendar, no pancakes made themselves available. So I settled for corn flakes, because when you mumble that it sounds like pancakes and because that’s what I eat every morning.
Off to college I zoomed, on my bike, which went marginally faster today than it previously had after a chance meeting with an old pal spruced up the wheels good and full. I was cycling towards education faster than I had all year. But my morning chit-chat meant that I was being slapped repeatedly, and unapologetically, by the hands of time. This harassment was quickly shrugged off after arriving on campus, mere feet away from the canteen.
Class would go on without me, I assumed, as I scanned the scene, like the Terminator. Pancakes were present but maple syrup was the only available condiment. "Poor choice," I barked. Two for two euro with the second euro apparently going to charity. I had three euro and inquired as to whether I could get three pancakes, in the politest way possible. "No," the gruff man behind the counter replied, in a rather uncharitable manner.
The syrup was a bit watery and my pancakes, conjured without affection or care, lay motionless in their shallow grave before I chopped them up with canteen cutlery. An indignant and impersonal way to go. Reluctantly, I licked the plate clean. The spare euro I had was weighing heavy in my pocket and, quite frankly, hurting my leg.
Should I ever acquire a legal team, the gruff pancake merchant will rue this day. His name has been added to the list is my point. I eventually made it to class and after having my request for an additional euro denied by the lecturer, immediately left again.
The emphatic rejection made me reflect: Why am I so desperate to eat pancakes on this day?
Pancake Tuesday’s origins trace back to biblical times, before Jesus toddled off into the desert for prolonged alone time, he only went and spent the day eating pancakes. Or something like that. Shrove Tuesday, as it was known, was a day to reflect on your bad habits and look to cut them out in the name of being a better Christian.
So how did we arrive at pancakes? In modern times the things people tend to give up for Lent are products that bloat the waistband. In the spirit of JC himself, food is often looked at as a disposable vice and, in an effort to fight off anticipated temptation, the day before the fast is a day of indulgence.
In fact, the day is known as Fatty Tuesday in loads of countries. You’re encouraged to gorge on whatever you can grab but usually there is a representative dish for the day. For example, in Iceland, Bursting Day is marked with a plate of salted meat and peas. Yum. And the reason we’ve landed on pancakes is because its ingredients include milk, eggs and sugar, humble delicacies for most. Chocolate Cake Tuesday sounds like it could be super good too, but pancakes possess surprisingly understated symbolism.
When I arrived home four pancakes greeted me on a plate in the kitchen. I devoured them with a smile, finally appreciating the novelty of a day dedicated to the hardened batter. Some might yearn for days full of activities like races with frying pans. On the island of Newfoundland parents hide objects inside their kids pancakes, including nails and ecstasy tablets. But here we keep it simple: Make pancakes and then eat them. Instructions I follow religiously.