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Monday, 7 March 2011

How to Celebrate Shrove Tuesday, Properly

All raise your arms aloft in triumph (I cannot as I am typing, but I will do it straight afterwards, promise), for tomorrow is everyone's favourite Tuesday, Pancake Day. Originally designed to use up all those sinful ingredients such as eggs and sugar before Lent, the day has now become yet another excuse for greedy people to convene at each other's houses, open a bottle of wine and eat vast quantities of food; in other words, right up my street. Here are a few tips for the perfect Pancake Day.

1. Go to someone else's house; specifically, someone with a dishwasher. Hosting it at your own house is a mistake you will only make the once, as you slothfully leave the pots and pans until the weekend only to find that pancake batter is capable of spot-welding itself onto any firm surface, and requires nothing less than a good blast of kryptonite to remove it.

2. Do not assume that you will just happen to have all the correct ingredients already in the house. Yes, I know the whole point of pancakes is to use up certain items, but you will be exceedingly unpopular if you volunteer to bring the eggs and the person making the batter lifts the lid on the carton to find just one small, lonely, possibly cracked egg. Or so I, ahem, believe.

3. Go for a good range of both sweet and savoury fillings. Savoury should include ham and grated cheese, obviously, but our favourite filling came about accidentally, concocted from a random assortment of ingredients including mushrooms, red wine, squeezy garlic and squeezy chilli. Sweet fillings should include Nutella, crumbled Flakes and chopped banana. And remember that it doesn't matter that lemon and sugar are the traditional pancake fillings - no-one will wish to eat this when other, better, fillings are available.

4. If in doubt, forgo the pancakes altogether. They are far more filling than you think they are going to be (particularly the first one, which always comes out roughly the thickness of a child's finger), and no-one (please do NOT see this as a challenge, Mr Liz) can eat more than two. It is much easier just to eat handfuls of cheese standing up in the kitchen, or sneak a couple of Flakes into your bag for tomorrow. If you are brazen enough in this practice, your hostess will eventually tire of attempting to correct your behaviour and will simply buy extra Flakes and grate extra cheese, thereby making everyone, especially you, a winner.

5. And finally, do remember that the "Shrove" of Shrove Tuesday is *quickly dons English teacher hat* the past participle of to shrive, a verb meaning to gain absolution for one's sins by means of penance. The guidelines on the form this penance should take are hazy, so to be on the safe side, you're best interpreting them as "go forth and eat as many pancakes as you can". Then we're all well away on the path to righteousness - and we've all had a Flake as well.

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