Today’s post should probably be subtitled: ‘What I Didn’t Eat Last Night.’ As all of you will know, yesterday was Shrove Tuesday: the day when, traditionally, those Christian types use up all their leftovers, paving the way for forty days of solid deprivation.
Like most of these religious-based events, the Jesus aspect has pretty much drained away for most Brits. Now we only cook up pancakes and skimp on the fasting – not a terribly bad state of affairs to a heathen like me. Still, why on earth anyone needs an excuse to serve a tasty syrup-smothered feast, I’ll never know. And only once a year as well. Pah.
This week, being the rebel that I am, I had my pancake feast on Monday – a big doughy moon filled with cheese and aubergine – and very nice it was too. I toyed with the idea of cooking a stack last night, but I’ll be brutally honest: I couldn’t be bothered.
Though it pains this hog to say it, on the whole I find pancakes quite a big hassle. All that mixing, mess and frying – producing burnt rejects left, right and centre – for just a few slivers that go down far too quickly. Perhaps it’s just me: sometimes, I’ll admit, the process of flipping and stacking is pretty darn fun. But there’s never enough by the time the batter’s gone. So although I’d love to eat pancakes every other day, there are a million other puddings which seem so much… easier.
What I really need is a dedicated Pancake Chef. One time, on a super-cheap jaunt to Morocco, we stayed in a hotel that had just that: a woman in a flour-marked pinny, whose sole job was to cook pancakes to order at breakfast. Boy, was that a good time. There was always a queue by her pan, of course, but it was 100% worth the wait. No normal person could resist French-style crepes dowsed in honey, or, even better: those thick, square Moroccan pancakes, Msemen; durable, almost pastry-like sheets, made with semolina and yeast – perfect with a covering of jam.
I’m salivating at the thought. Moroccans sure know how to cook a good pancake. They even do a kind called Beghrir, which look like little circles of honeycomb; griddle-cakes dotted with crumpet-like holes.
Now I come to think of it, Tibetan pancakes float my boat as well. Pronounced Parlay Thugpo, with these all you do is make up a batter, then pour it straight into a hot, thick-bottomed pan to cook. No fussing with wafer-thin portions, or keeping things warm under tea towels. No sir: these are the big boys. The real deal. The finished product is more like a sweetened bread than what us Westerners are used to, but seriously good nonetheless – especially when dipped in a large steaming mug of butter tea.
Brrr. Why is there never a pan-wielding Tibetan when you need one? Lacking as I am – and lazy with it – I might have to tug on the Man’s sleeves instead (he’s an excellent fryer, thank goodness).
And when these yet-to-be-made delights appear, what should I choose to have them with? Jam? Golden syrup? Florentine butter? Melted chocolate? Cream liqueur? Lemon and sugar? Salt caramel sauce? Fried bananas? Lemon curd? Ice cream?
It’s a tough one that…
Thank goodness every day can be Pancake Day. I think I’ll take my time and have them all.