Shrove Tuesday, the night before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of the forty days of Lent, is a traditional eating of pancakes or unleavened bread recalling the Israelites leaving Egypt. In Belgium or at least at the Beguinnage this is Vette Maandag; all the leftovers are eaten and traditional pannekoken. I quite love pannekoken and am always excited when we have these warm delicious crepe-like pancakes for dessert or for a complete dinner. I was ready! Occasionally, I even have succumbed to purchasing one or two of these pannekoken at a bakery nearby on my way to Lace school and eaten them along the canal but it is too cold for that indulgence now. This Tuesday, we sisters were eating in the guesthouse with an old friend of the Beguinnage which means talking at dinner. It was a lovely evening with lively conversation and friendly enjoyment all over myriad pannekoken with choices of confiture, butter or cinnamon sugar! I promise not to tell you how many I ate and there were still leftovers so…as I was taking a picnic on my way to Kant school the next day, pannekoken became my lunch. Lucky me!
One of the great adventures of pannekoken now is that I am allowed into the kitchen near the immense skillet to help with the cooking of these gems of delectability. The sister cook, who has made them for years, can walk away, answer the phone, look in the refrigerator and serve salad all returning at just the proper moment for turning the pannekoken. Now I, on the other hand, who have simply two pannekoken per cooking batch of 6 to tend on the skillet, watch, guard and cluck over them like a hen and still sometimes the pannekoken crack as I try to turn them. The expert sister has none of this deficiency; she flips them in the air and whoosh perfect landing! I suppose after 25 years maybe I can be an expert as well. This special pannekoken skill went home to America with me and I made them for sixty sisters and taught them how to eat them. My home sisters did know I was not the most perfect cooker. Fortunately, they had never seen pannekoken cooking done before allowing for mistakes to go unnoticed! Lucky me and they loved them and the adventure of Belgian pannekoken as well…..On to the fasting of Lent.