Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Welcome to the 7th Annual CafeAnons Ball!

Shrove Tuesday is already proving not to be the typical Tuesday night, with Mardi Gras underway in some parts, while live coverage continues from the site of a cabin in Big Bear, California to the presentation of the State of the Union Address before a joint session of Congress by the President of the United States.

So to get things started, we need to be sure the pancakes are arriving from the kitchen to all the plates here in the cafe.  There are many ways to make pancakes - but just in case you're not sure, here is a short less on making delicious pancakes for Strove Tuesday.

Ever wonder how Shrove Tuesday got started? Here's a short history:

For centuries, the English have celebrated Shrove Tuesday, the day before Lent, with merriment and antics and, especially, great quantities of pancakes. In fact, the fried flat cakes became so important to the holiday that is has also been called Pancake Day, or Pancake Tuesday.

Learning to make pancakes can start early.
Long ago, strict Christian Lenten rules prohibited the eating of all dairy products, so keen housewives made pancakes to use up their supplies of eggs, milk, butter and other fats. They could be easily made and cooked in a skillet or on a griddle.

Families ate stacks of them, and pancakes were popular with all classes.

The rich Shrovetide pancakes were eaten as a ritual or symbol of self-indulgence before the fast. Early English recipes called for wheaten flour, eggs, butter or lard, a liquid (water, milk, ale or wine) and flavorings such as white or brown sugar, spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, or ginger), orange flower water, scented sugars or liqueurs.

The pancakes were fried in butter or fat and served flat or rolled and sprinkled with powdered sugar, topped with preserves or doused with  alcohol. A special pancake, called a quire or pancake of paper, was made very thin and usually stacked. It was likened to a quire of "wafers" or writing paper.

Even the church bells that rang early on Shrove Tuesday morning summoning everyone to confession and to be "shriven" became known as Pancake Bells. They also reminded all to use up the "forbidden foods" before Lent. An old London rhyme went "Pancakes and fritters, say the bells on St. Peter's."

Now we know!

Pancake Races
One of the traditions of Shrove Tuesday is to hold pancake races. Here is what Wiki says about that:

Shrove Tuesday was once known as a "half-holiday" in England. It started at 11:00 am with the ringing of a church bell. On Pancake Day, "pancake races" are held in villages and towns across the United Kingdom. The tradition is said to have originated when a housewife from Olney was so busy making pancakes that she forgot the time until she heard the church bells ringing for the service. She raced out of the house to church while still carrying her frying pan and pancake. The pancake race remains a relatively common festive tradition in the UK, especially England, even today. Participants with frying pans race through the streets tossing pancakes into the air and catching them in the pan whilst running. 
The most famous pancake race, at Olney in Buckinghamshire, has been held since 1445. The contestants, traditionally women, carry a frying pan and race to over a 415 yard course to the finishing line. The rules are strict: contestants have to toss their pancake at both the start and the finish, as well as wear an apron and a scarf. Traditionally, when men want to participate, they must dress up as a housewife (usually an apron and a bandanna). The race is followed by a church service. 
Since 1950 the people of Liberal, Kansas, and Olney have held the "International Pancake Day" race between the two towns. The two towns' competitors race along an agreed-upon measured course. The times of the two towns' competitors are compared to determine a winner overall. After the 2009 race, Liberal was leading with 34 wins to Olney's 25. A similar race is held in North Somercotes of Lincolnshire in eastern England.

Have you ever participated in a Pancake Race?

Well, if one has munched down stacks of pancakes and then took off running with pancakes in a skillet, well - this might be what comes next:

Just remembered that back in 2009 when we celebrated the Third Annual CafeAnons Ball, the president gave his first State of the Union Address.  It turns out that year he was very late for the speech.  Here's a pic of the Congress waiting - something they would find they do more of than anything else.

U.S. Congress waits for President Obama to arrive for the State of the Union Address in 2009.

Last night I was having dinner with friends who are starting their own blog.  We were talking about the perpetual subject of "moderating comments."  Do you or don't you?  If you do, how do you do it?  Do you make people register before commenting?  Do you make them give their real name?  Do you review the comments before posting?  Do you make everyone type system-generated random letters before posting?  Just what should you do?

Here at the Cafe we thought that it would be like a Cafe in real life.  Only in Cheers does everyone know your name.  In most cafe and pubs - yes, there are regulars who's names are known.  But there are many visitors who's name no one ever knows.  That's part of the charm of a cafe or pubs - a mix of the known and the unknown.  We wanted it to be a place where those on the left and those on the right could meet up and swap howdies.  However we didn't want anyone to meet up and swap blows.

So our official moderator is none other than this guy:

He has his favorite table by the door.  He has a lot on his mind so most often is not easily disturbed.  But if things get rowdy, he won't hesitate to get up from his chair and toss someone out the door - or window.

Sadly, many time they are the anons  - not always - but most often it does seem to their lot in life.  Some seem to forget that while we may not know their name (though we might know where they are posting from) someone does know their name.  Just saying.

Most of the time - a great deal of the time - Hagrid can just snooze his time-off away and while the conversations may get lively (we are permitted to toss pancakes but not chairs), it most often is still rather cordial.  And for that, we are grateful.

And so on this day, we say thank you - all you anons (who know who you are), thank you for dropping in, toasting your tankard, speaking your mind and most of the time keeping your cool.  Here is a song dedication for each one of you.  We've had some tough years haven't we?  And some of us go our separate ways for lots of different reasons - and yet this is truly my prayer for us:

So the State of the Union Address should begin soon, but all the live coverage seems to be pointed at Big Bear, California.  We did receive an question from an Anon about how we think the president will fare tonight.  Well, the Anon said more than that but we'll just send a stack of pancakes out to him and leave it at that.

So the live stream is changing from a burning cabin in the woods of California to the United States Capitol - not exactly the juxtaposition the president was hoping for.

The U.S. Congres gathers for the State of the Union Address.
Meanwhile, drama unfolds in Big Bear, California

One can only imagine what the Vice President is whispering

And now as a public service, we bring you live coverage of the State of the Union Address:

And interesting live commentary as usual from Stephen Green here.

Meanwhile - as if this isn't enough - Mardi Gras is underway in New Orleans.

Time for a musical interlude, then.

Of course, we can't have an event like this an not hear from you know who.

I was thinking of a series of dreams
Where nothing comes up to the top
Everything stays down where it’s wounded
And comes to a permanent stop
Wasn’t thinking of anything specific
Like in a dream, when someone wakes up and screams
Nothing too very scientific
Just thinking of a series of dreams

So we'll sign off with this one - a favorite - from Mr. Dylan.  G'Nite all - and g'nite cafeanons.

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