My friends Rob & Briony are currently on their honeymoon in Brazil, where they’ll get the chance to experience carnival in Rio. You might think I’d be jealous – in fact, I’m not at all, as today is PANCAKE DAY.
Now I understand how people may be more easily impressed by carnival spectacles such as the samba bands in Rio, the drunken debuachery in Cologne or the drag queens and dykes on bikes at Sydney Mardi Gras.
By comparison, the practice of partying before lent begins by eating pancakes may seem a little bit tame. But really. You can get drunk, throw on a frock and cake yourself in makeup any day of the year. Whereas it is a true FACT that pancakes only taste this nice for one day of the year, and that is today, pancake day. Most of the year I can take them or leave them. But today, I plan to stuff myself. I’ve already managed to get off to a good start, as I happened to pass a cafe in Wandsworth this morning serving them (I wasn’t going to let the the little fact that I was on the way to the dentist stop me). I may try and find more for lunch. And then will be making them at home this evening. Sugar. Lemon. Currants. Pancakey goodness. Mmmm. And lots of it.
Actually, I’m not normally quite this obsessed with pancake day. But as the start of my trip gets ever closer I’ve suddenly found myself getting obsessed with various comfort foods from various periods of my youth. Saturday evening saw me eat my first Viennetta in years. Last night was tinned rice pudding. I’m already plotting various must-eats over my remaining nights, and thinking long and hard about which of my mum’s favourite meals I’ll be begging for on my last trip home. It’s silly really, I’m only going for a year, and it’s been far longer than that since I ate half of these things. Clearly my sub-conscious has started missing home before I’ve even gone.
Anyway, whatever the psychological reason behind it: I just can’t get enough of pancake day. Actually, writing about it now gets me thinking – is this just a British thing, or did we manage to export the tradition elsewhere?