Yesterday, I celebrated Shrove Tuesday as I have for most of the past 20 years–eating what Americans call pancakes, and I have always known as flapjacks. But, I was hankering for those good old pancakes that I ate in England–what Americans call crepes: drizzled with fine sugar and lemon juice. Those you can toss easily in a pan; the others are griddle cakes and flip better with a spatula. Oh, to hark back to the good old days! But, the celebration has been and gone, and in the American tradition I ate sausage patties–a hamburger lookalike. Where were my real sausages and even my bacon? The British have a heavy responsibility for losing the War of Independence.
But, I think a reprieve is at hand. I listened to the latest bulletins about the GOP presidential nomination race. Former Governor Romney was in Michigan and sampling what passes for Shrove Tuesday tradition there–paczkis–jelly-filled donuts. No chance of having a cultural confusion. These things–of Polish origin–are no sort of pancake. As I move into Ash Wednesday and consider what Lenten challenge I should take on, perhaps it will be to sample as many different kinds of Shrove Tuesday culinary traditions as I can over 40 days. Now, there’s something to put discipline to the test.
Lent is meant to offer a chance for self-examination and to me this fits well–though my wardrobe may not for long. I can do this sampling simply and with solace, even solemnity. I can do it in the confines of a darkened room or in the harsh wilderness. I will be a different person at the end of the process–and I do not mean that my shape will have changed, though I know that donuts are often calorie-heavy. I really don’t think this is something to impose on my family and hope that they do not feel compelled to follow my lead; merely, give me encouragement to go on for the whole 40 days. I will go immediately to find a hair shirt or nearest equivalent and knuckle down to research what to seek and where I need to wander.
Wish me luck!