Shrove Tuesday, when traditionally pancakes are prepared from ‘leftover’ ingredients of flour, eggs and milk to signify the beginning of Lent.
Well I never thought deeply about any of that. We always had pancakes for tea when Pancake Day came round. I never understood why anyone poured Jif lemon juice on them, my brother and I were all for sugar, jam (or Nutella if we were flush enough to have any in – rare). Mum would carefully turn them with the flat spatula we all knew as the ‘fishslice’, remembering how Grandma, even then, could flip the things over neatly in the pan. I even saw it happen once. God knows how she did it, it must have all been in the wrist. One swift movement and a perfectly tossed pancake in the frying pan!
Mind you, one time the frying pan became the flying pan. Grandma was famously over-enthusiastic with her flipping, and Grandad had to stand on a buffet, and scrape bits of pancake off the kitchen ceiling.
So Mum always turned, and never flipped.
When it became my turn to provide my own family with pancakes, the results were less convincing. One evening, with my fella away, I asked my daughter what she fancied for tea.
Me: I’ll make owt* you want. (dangerous words never since uttered when it comes to cooking).
Jas: Ooh (salivating) pancakes please.
Me: (gulp) Pan…cakes…(cold sweat)
So out with all the stuff, pretending it’s no problem. After all, we’ve had pancakes on days other than Pancake Day before. I mixed up the batter to perfection.
Jas: Ooh I’m looking forward to these pancakes, you hardly ever make any.
Me: (thinking ‘I wonder why that is’) This fat’s smokin’ now.
Pour in the batter…spit…spat…hiss…chchch…there’s holes in it! I’ve spiralled the mixture into the pan, damn, damn, why did I do that? Quick, spread it out. Quicker still, try to turn before the bottom burns. Oh it’s sticking! Spit…hiss…chchch. I put loads of oil in, it was smoking hot! What’ve I done, what’ve I done? Shrove Tuesday’s pancakes now Ash Wednesday’s crozzled ash.
In haste and panic I scrape bits of stringy batter out and plonk them on a plate.
Me: Here y’are. I’ll try make another.
My poor lass. Her disappointed little face makes my eyes water at my own inadequacy. Why did she have to ask for pancakes? Flippin’ ‘eck!