Before Christmas, two of my Yr3 lab sections were buoyed up by the presence of two pairs of 'French'. These chaps (3F:1M) had a different and, in my opinion, intrinsically better way of writing up their lab books; they were always firing on all cylinders; they volunteered for things-to-do. This is not to say that all my local students were the antithesis of these virtues but they were not 100% there for science. But the best thing about having these visitors was that they were different and so made life more interesting for all of us. They came to Ireland as part of the Erasmus scheme which aspires to stir the pot of our Europe by encouraging Brits to meet Italians and eSpanish to talk to Poles by embedding students for a year or part of year abroad. Erasmus has sent my pal Lulu to Berlin for this academic year, which process she has been bloggin', and very interesting that has been too. We had our Institutional celebration of multi-culturalism at the beginning of December, with a lot of weird-and-wonderful food on offer.
Well, I never twigged it before, but today is Schmotziger Donnerstag, Τσικνοπέμπτη, torkos csütörtök, Tłusty czwartek or as we might call it Fat(ten-up) Thursday: the Thursday before the start of Lent. In Anglophoneland we are much more familiar with Mardi Gras (fat Tuesday) which happens next week in places like Louisiana. As we know from our view of Mardi Gras on the TV, there is plenty of hoopla as well as glomming down donuts and gumbo. In the WEA, we go with the French and celebrate Pancake Tuesday immediately before Ash Wednesday and the start of the austerities of Lent.
I'm sure Lulu will be picking delicately at a berliner which is what Europe calls the robust donuts the size of a cat's head and filled with jam which they fry up and chow down. The no-nonsense-ness of Portuguese pastries - they have a bolo de berlim which is filled with a lurid yellow custard (mmmmm so good) - was one of the many aspects of that culture which made me feel at home there. The Greeks with their Τσικνο-πέμπτη go more for barbecue - the first part of the word means something like charred-meat. In Castilla-La Mancha, especially around Albacete, they call it a comforting Jueves Lardero. I am fully expecting our own La Manch' to telephone his grandmother for the recipe and make us some bizcochos.
But the principal is the same. The Blob has spoken - today you have licence to to go out and feed up. Enjoy!