Fat Thursday

Paczki

Paczki

Fat Thursday is a traditional Catholic Christian feast marking the last Thursday before Lent and is associated with the celebration of Carnival. Because Lent is a time of fasting, the next opportunity to feast would not be until Easter.

Fat Thursday is celebrated in Central and Eastern Europe.  It is similar to, but should not be confused with the French festival of Mardi Gras (“Fat Tuesday”), Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Tuesday as we know it in Ireland.  There is clearly an East/West divide between the whole Thursday and Tuesday thing.

Traditionally both focus on the eating of treat foods that are soon to be banned for Lent.

Today I celebrated my first ever Fat Thursday by gorging on Polish pączki, fist-sized donuts filled with rose jam and slathered with a sticky marmalade flavoured icing.  We have a very international office where I work at present, in HostelWorld.  As a result we get to eat ALL the party foods.  It’s great!

 

Ode to a Donut; by Donal Clancy with help from John Keats

 

My stomach rumbles, and a drowsy numbness pains

My sense, as though of decaf I had drunk,

Or emptied some caffeine free beverage into my veins

Three O’clock, and feeling punch drunk:

‘Tis not for naught called the mogadon slot,

But being too happy in thine happiness,—

That thou, lardy Dryad of the teas

In some melodious plot

Of powdered sugar, and sprinkles numberless,

Singest of simmer in full-fat grease.

 

O, for a draught of chocolate! that hath been

Warmed a moment in the microwave,

Tasting of marshmallow and the cocoa brown,

Dance, and Aztec song, and sunburnt mirth!

O for a beaker full of the warm South,

Full of the true, the blushful cacao,

With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,

And chocolate-stained mouth;

That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,

And with thee fade away into the tea-station dim:

 

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget

What thou among the PC’s hast never known,

The weariness, the fever, and the fret

Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;

Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,

Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;

Where but to think is to be full of sorrow

And leaden-eyed despairs,

Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,

Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

 

Thou wast not born for keeping, immortal pastry!

No!;  hungry generations chomp thee down;

The noise I hear, this chew and swallow was heard

In ancient days by emperor and clown:

Perhaps the self-same song that found a path

Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,

She stood in tears amid the alien cronut;

The same that oft-times hath

Charm’d magic croissants, opening on the scone

On Devon teas, with clotted cream forlorn.

 

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell

To toll me back from thee to my hungry self!

Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well

As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.

Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive savour fades

Past the gums, over the tongue,

Down the throat; and now ’tis buried deep

In the straining belly:

Was it a Berliner, stuffed with jam and cream?

Fled is that donut:—Do I wake or sleep?

Islamism is not Faith

I love the quote from the film “Kingdom of Heaven” when the Knight Hospitaller says to Bailan:

I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of God. I’ve seen too much religion in the eyes of too many murderers. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves. And goodness – what God desires – is here [points to Balian’s head] and here[points to Balian’s heart] and by what you decide to do every day you will be a good man…or not.

Here is a man who seems to believe in religion:

Gunman

He went into the Lindt Chocolate Cafe in Sydney, Australia, but he did not want Chocolate.  He was looking for trouble in the name of extreme Islamism.  You can say what you like about Islam being peaceful, but as long as we have people like this the overwhelming image of Islam from non Muslims will be dictated by people like this.

Ask this lady, a clerk in the Chocolate shop who ran for her life, if she thinks Islam is a religion of love.

Lindt

Ask this guy, who holds the Koran aloft, why he also needs the AK 47

Koran

Now I guess some Muslims will tell me that Christianity has a terrible reputation for violence, and you would be right.  Christians used to behave in the past the way some Muslims are behaving today.   But that was the past.

Some Muslims will point out that these people do not represent “Muslims”.  Sorry, but they do.  And as peaceful Muslims you need to do something about them.  Take responsibility for how Islam is portrayed.

I am sure of one thing; God does not speak from the barrel of a gun.

What did America ever do for us?

Cranberries?  We should celebrate cranberries?  I think not.  And what is a blueberry only a commercialised bilberry.  We had them already in Ireland.

Then there is Maize, the runt of the grain family.  Maize was responsible for widespread pellagra due to niacin defficiency.  How did native americans ever figure out that soaking the grain in lye released niacin?  So Italians rave about polenta, big deal. You won’t find it in Ireland.

I will say that fresh maize is pretty good, no barbeque is complete without sweet corn on the cob.  And then I guess there is popcorn, which goes perfectly with that other American invention, the cinema.

The potato, that came from America.  And here in Ireland it was responsible for the death of a million and the emigration of 2 million Irish as a result of the potato famine.  OK, Irish cuisine basically doesn’t exist without the humble spud.  Boil them, crush them, mash them, cream them, roast them, sauté, fried, deep fried, dauphin, au gratin, croquette, duchesse, baked, deep fried skins, stuffed, layered, potato cake, potato bread, garfield, rosti, I could go on.

Then America gave us the turkey, which basically means that Americans invented Christmas.  We don’t do thanksgiving, but Christmas just isn’t Christmas without turkey, and cranberry sauce. OK, so there is a use for cranberries, once a year.

Tomatoes.  They come from America.  What would we have without them?  No ketchup, no puree, no passata, so there go half of all the pasta sauces.  And Pizza is not Pizza absent the tomato.  Provencale sauce, practically every other salad, burgers without tomato and ketchup?  Hot dogs?  OK, so we need tomatoes.

Then there is Chili, that came from america too.  Chili, not Chile, which is in America.  This insidious spice has effectively invaded every cuisine from Portugal to China.  Somehow it bypassed Ireland until the 1970’s, and there are still chili free areas in the deep rural areas of the country.

Chocolate, oh yeah, that’s American.  Chocolate bars, chocolate cakes, boxes of chocolate, chocolate pudding, hot chocolate, death by chocolate, mmmmmm.

So there are really some pretty cool things that we got from America.  Oh, and another is the handgun.  Invented in America by Elisha Collier in 1814 and developed by Samuel Colt in 1836 and onwards.  Today I read how a kid on a schoolbus in Florida produced a pistol and shot a 13 year old girl, Lourdes Guzman.  That is one thing from America that I don’t want in Ireland.  Handguns and kids don’t mix!

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/I_Don%27t_Like_Mondays

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o2I84-A9duY