Pancake day


Shrove Tuesday, another of those religious events that’s been adopted by the general populous, like Christmas and Chocolate Sunday (er, I mean Easter). Mardi Gras, meaning Fat Tuesday is often a huge festival, starting in some places, before Christmas. The vast majority of Westernised society celebrate Shrove Tuesday in one form or another, from us Brits, with our pancakes to the residents of Binche, Belgium with their Gilles.

It’s a great honour for the local young bucks of Binche to be given the nod of becoming a Gille. Up to 1000 of these Gilles dancers (pictured above, in their morning attire) crack on at 4AM, beating sticks to ward away evil spirits. In the afternoon, they remove the masks and put on a hat; a massive plumage of ostrich feathers, slightly larger than the proportions of a Space Hopper. These guys then lead processions throughout the afternoon, where, the notable activity involves them throwing a lot of oranges at people and things as this is supposed to bring good luck. They carry on deep into the next morning, creating such a spectacle, that UNISEC proclaimed it as an official “Masterpiece of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity”. Ultimate party kudos.

Whilst a lot of the people of Christendom celebrate Shrove Tuesday, not all, observe the Ash Wednesday and Lent counterpart. Someone at work has given up doing swears for lent. I’ve never heard him swear, but maybe that’s because I’m his boss. He’s putting 50p into a pot every time he swears. It did make me think.. maybe I should…

Eirene (my much better half – or given her 8 month pregnant status, better three quarters) is giving up junk food. I’m not particularly religious, but, having eaten a fair stink of pancakes today, perhaps I should take the rough with the smooth. I do like the guidance and discipline defined by two millennia of good people, from time to time.

Perhaps I should join her on the junk food sabbatical. It certainly won’t do me any harm. She’s already said curry house curry is AOK (brilliant!), as it’s typically made from natural ingredients, not processed food with unnatural fats, chemicals and the like. Chinese takeaway, however is not cool as this typically has a lot of ‘junk’ in it. MSG, colourings, preservatives, etc.

Every weekend, I do the cooking (which I love doing) but nearly always use real, natural, straight out the ground or off the bone ingredients, and make a lot of stuff from scratch. Yes, I think I’m deciding to go for this, and define it as I’m typing…

Fizzy soft drinks are out, cheap chocolate – na-ah. Expensive, 85% proof organic choc? May be in with a shout. Already established curry is on the AOK list. I think this could work. I don’t eat a lot of junk food anyway. What about chips? I may have to escalate that decision. Dripping and potato are both ground / off the bone box tickers, so it could still be game on for real chips.

The good thing is, on a Sunday – the deal is off – Lent permits you to drop the restriction for the day, according to a relative on Eirene’s side who knows her onions.

This could even be quite fun. Vending machines, with their bags of quavers, could be my downfall.

Thanks to


for this photo and making it available under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Licence.

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Blogger. Photogger. Walker. Talker. Experience designer based in Dubai. Co-founder of 4 kids.

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