Wednesday, 22 February 2012

I came last in the pancake race

...because I'm a useless tosser.

I thought I'd post some Shrovetide musings about the origin of Pancake Day traditions. Lent, obviously, has been around since shortly after Jesus said 'I need to be alone; I'll be back in about 6 weeks,' so let's call that about 2000 years (8 o'clock)

Pancakes may have taken a little inventing, so we'll allow a few years, but according to Wikipedia, pancake races were alive and well by 1445 (quarter to three).

Refined sugar became affordable to the proletariat in what, the late 18th century, so let's say quarter to six (1745); I have no idea when lemons became commonly available in Britain, but as they had to be transported from the Mediterranean, it's probably fairly recently.

So where did the tradition of sugar and lemon juice on pancakes come from? How long ago? How long does something have to have been happening to become a tradition? What did people have on their pancakes before sugar and lemon juice?

There's a joke that's really apposite for Shrove Tuesday, but it involves copious numbers of racial stereotypes which are considered inappropriate in the 21st century (after 8pm); if you substitute the PC equivalent of '...and a blonde' it becomes a proper bag of spanners and doesn't work... though I'm not going to post it, please feel free to laugh uproariously or frown disapprovingly and call me a useless tosser; it is Ash Wednesday after all.

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