We’ve been talking about pancakes here at home this week. Pancakes did not play a large part in my British life, except on Pancake day. Pancake Day is the day before Ash Wednesday, and legend tells us it was traditionally a way of using up all those delicious eggs and creamy milk, before the start of Lent.
Over the years I have made pancakes with hundreds of my participants, and even held pancake races. Sometimes pancakes were tossed so enthusiastically they got stuck on various kitchen ceilings.
The pancakes we tossed are what Germans understand as crepes, and are usually rolled up and then eaten with a squeeze of lemon and a sprinkling of sugar. Hmmn.
Imagine my delight on landing in the USA and meeting my first American pancake.
Not forgetting the maple syrup:
Then I came back to Germany and lo and behold, German pancakes are different again: and in Berlin, the word ‘Pfannkuchen’ is actually what we would call in English a doughnut and what the rest of Germany call a Berliner.
Not confusing at all.
Anyway, ‘Pat-a-cake’ comes from an English nursery rhyme. Here’s one version…
Which is first mentioned in writing in the year 1698. Later, it was a poem in a collection called ‘Mother Goose’ Nursery Rhymes’, which was published in 1780. There are dozens of English nursery rhymes, all very old, and many with a political or historical background; Humpty Dumpty, Hickory Dickory Dock, Sing a song of Sixpence, Twinkle twinkle little star… I could drone on for hours.
The ‘Mother Goose’ character, by the way, comes from the French. Perrault’s fairy tale collection, Contes de ma Mère l’Oye, was first translated into English as Tales of My Mother Goose.
Talking of geese, on one of our daily walks this week we saw hundreds of Canada geese on the meadows next to the river Weser. They must already be on their way back home up north, ready for the spring and summer.