It’s been a while since I’ve done a round-up of things I find funny and/or odd in Ireland, and believe me the list expands on an almost-daily basis. Just because I’ve been here for a while now doesn’t mean I understand the bizarrities (<– my own creation) of the Emerald Isle any better than I did when I was fresh off the plane back in March 2010. Here are a few recent discoveries:
Confusing names: I remember the first time someone offered me a flapjack here in Ireland; what I got was not what I would call a flapjack. What we Americans call a flapjack is basically a pancake – an American pancake, mind you, not the thin, crepe-like “pancakes” of Ireland. What people here call a flapjack is basically a soft granola bar to me – a bar made up of oats, with maybe some nuts and/or dried fruit. On a similar note, I recently made some cinnamon rolls for a bake-off, and no one seemed to know what they were. People were calling them everything from morning buns to cakey thing, which is no surprise considering I’ve never seen a cinnamon roll at a bakery in Ireland.
Speaking of pancakes: I think I’ve written here before about how most of my friends – church-going or not – give up something for Lent. Whether it’s chocolate (a hugely popular sacrifice), bread or alcohol, it seems like everyone is giving up something for these 40 days. So the day before everyone gives up their [fill in the blank], they have what people here call “Pancake Tuesday.” On the evening before Lent begins, people whip up pancakes loaded with all kinds of toppings: chocolate drops, whipped cream, Golden Syrup, marshmallows – you name it, it’s on there. The tradition stems from Shrove Tuesday, which dates back to the early Middle Ages. Back then the church forbade its members from eating meat, eggs and dairy products during Lent, so mammies used up whatever eggs, milk and butter they had left to make pancakes. I doubt they were topped with M&Ms, but as they say you can’t stop progress!