Thursday, 19 February 2015


Shrove Tuesday, Pancake day, whatever you call it, is the day before Lent, when all good Christians everywhere fast for 40 days. I guess from a layman's point of view we could compare it to Ramadan in the Muslim calendar.

Personally I like "Fat Tuesday". It's just got that "stuff your face" sound about it.  Fat Tuesday is a literal translation of the French phrase Mardi Gras, the name given to the ritual of the last night of eating fatter, richer foods before the fasting period, which begins the day after, Ash Wednesday.

Ash Wednesday derives its name from the ashes of burnt palm branches, blessed the year before on Palm Sunday, which is the Sunday before Easter, and was a reminder that we return to dust (hence ashes to ashes, dust to dust). Palm branches are used as it is believed that palm branches and leaves were scattered in front of Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem.

It's fascinating stuff the way it links and gives us modern day terms. But lets get back to pancakes.

After I sold my deli business in 2006, I traveled for a while, starting in the United States. It was on that trip that I discovered iHOP.  This was not some sort of technology exercise, but stood for the International House Of Pancakes.

I thought at the time that it was a new fast food outlet, but the first one opened in LA in 1958 and now has more than 1500 branches, with new ones opening recently in Dubai of all places. Well, it does say "International" in the name.

Now, it's worth remembering if you intend to visit an iHOP, and I recommend you do at least once, we're not talking about a couple of pancakes with a drizzle of maple syrup. We're talking a veritable mountain of carbohydrate, swimming in melted butter and maple syrup. It doesn't just serve pancakes though. You can go for the "lighter" option of crepes. Part of iHOP's fame is they have a lot more than maple syrup, and pride themselves on a wide range of syrups. But all's not lost on the waist line. Some syrups are sugar free.

However, sugar free and lighter options aside, the portions are so vast that you're going to need the 40 days of Lent to burn it all off.

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