Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Shrove Tuesday pancakes

Sometimes it's not my grandmother I'm becoming; tonight I think I was playing g-g-g-g-g-g-g-grandmother!  It suddenly seemed vital to have Shrove Tuesday pancakes for dinner, even though we never have before.  

Lent always seems like a powerful and moving time for me, but there's nothing in my background to help me know how to celebrate it.  I think that remote grandmother who slaved over her wood stove to turn pancakes would have to have been pre-Quaker, since the Quakers seem to go back at least five generations in my family.  

In a way, Lent seems like a natural for Quakers, who are, after all, a rather introspective bunch, and isn't that what Lent's for - examining the mess that's inside and trying to be better about it? But if the Church of England said that you should forego meat, eggs and milk for forty days, after carousing around your pancakes the night before, that would have been the kiss of death for that tradition.  If Quakers tend to frown on excess, we also aren't big on deliberate sacrifice.

"Shrove", in case you've forgotten, is like a past participle of "shrive," which means to absolve of sin.  And the pancakes were a way to use up the extra eggs and milk that you wouldn't need until Easter.  

And how does this work for me, I ask myself.  Quakers, of course, aren't very concerned with sin, but the more I think about it, the more I like the idea of a time when I pay extra attention to the things that I consistently stumble over and ways that I can avoid them.  And if a lovely meal of Craig Claiborne's basic pancakes can help me prepare for that, then why not?   

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