Shrove Tuesday Challenge!
Ok, in hindsight, this was a terrible idea, but at the time it seemed like a great one, a test of ability.
Pancake Day was approaching, and London had 3 challenges that I knew about. My plan: do all 3 in a day. Sounds easy, right?
The Breakfast Club
This is an annual event and is very popular. The Challenge is a stack of 12 pancakes covered in fruits and cream. You have 12 minutes to complete or you pay the full cost. The other catch is, you only have one small glass of water and pot of maple syrup to get you through the stack.
(I forgot to take a picture, but here is a much better one by The Breakfast Club):
Since this was the first challenge, it went down quite quickly. The only thing that caught me slightly off-guard was the heat still trapped in the bottom pancakes. These were relatively thin, and there wasn’t an excessive amount of toppings to deal with. Since they were thin, it was easy to get through a pancake fast. I would tear each one in half, and use that as a bite. Since they come with cream, you can use that to help you get them down since there is very limited water. If there is cream, no water, if not, take a small sip to help get swallow. Small sips are best since I found I ran out of water towards the end, so use it wisely. That’s about it, no other tactics here.
I enjoyed these. Even though I went through them fast, the size and toppings made for a tasty meal. Plus seeing the reactions on people’s faces was fun. This should be very doable for everyone, just come hungry, and eat relatively quickly.
The Diner – Strand
This challenge consists of 3 giant pancakes and a chocolate shake. On top of that, no water at all allowed. You get a small pot of maple syrup and cream to help, but don’t need to do them to complete the challenge. You have 6 minutes to get through them and the shake to get the meal free. If you fail, you pay the full price.
Oh man, these were some dense pancakes, and my previous challenge was still sitting in my stomach. Nonetheless, I started off well, but without any water at all and with stomach capacity hindered (not helped by sitting down) I was having a tough time mentally getting these down.
In an effort to help cool them down and get some moisture, I poured some of the shake onto them, and sipped the rest instead of water. However, a chocolate milkshake in addition to the pancakes makes a very sweet combination. I’m not a big fan of sweet food. My brain was quickly fighting against me getting these down.
The pancakes reminded me of that sponge layer in cakes due to their thickness and size. The challenge kind of felt like getting through a chocolate chip cake without icing… with a side order of milkshake. Personally, I would have like one, and without the side. The amount in the challenge was overkill for me.
Eventually I finished off the lot in 5 minutes, a minute to spare, but I probably spent just as long on the last pancake as the rest of them due to the mental challenge and lack of liquid. If you are just doing one challenge, it should be alright for you though.
The Polo Bar
This challenge was a bit confusing coming into it. Initially I heard it was 10 pancakes, 10 minutes. What I faced was 12 pancakes with a 15 minute limit. Now, if you are thinking oh man, you did 12 at The Breakfast Club, this should be no problem, think again. I had not had much time to digest the previous challenges. My body was trying to cope with all the sugar I had already consumed. Personally, sweet and starchy food makes me very thirsty and feel dehydrated, so leaving this challenge to last was a tactical call since you are allowed as much water as you want (not that there was a lot of spare room for it in my stomach by that point).
The pancakes were medium sized, but quite thick. There was a very generous serving of fruits and berries scattered throughout the stack (which to be fair was awesome, the tangy fruit gave some relief from the other flavours – remember, flavour fatigue can make you fail, mix it up.) One thing for sure, the chef did not spare the cream on these pancakes. I think if I were to squirt a whole can of whipping cream onto a plate it would still be less.
With regret in my mind, I collected my will and went at it. It wasn’t too bad for the first half. The previous challenges had settled just enough to open up some more space. I was focusing on making a good time and it seemed this would be a breeze. However, at the halfway mark, my mind woke up and reminded me that it was sick of the dense texture of pancakes. Enough was enough. I tried to use water sparingly to conserve space, using cream instead to get them down, but about ¾ of the way in I finally resorted to water just to clear the flavour after each bite.
Now, the pancakes were good, don’t get me wrong. The first couple I actually enjoyed, same with the prior challenges, but there is only so much of something you can have before you get tired of it and then it becomes a mental battle. Try it, even your favourite food will turn you away after you have had enough of it.
By the end I was stuffed. All that cream was taking it’s tall on me, this is probably the worst I have felt in a long time after a challenge. Short term I felt worse than after the Belly Buster because of all the sugar. My body was trying to deal with all the glucose. Also, on the one hand, I was thirsty as my body bound the glucose, on the other hand, I didn’t even want water since I felt uneasy after the sheer volume of food and quantity of cream I had just consumed.
Know what you are getting yourself into. None of these challenges alone should pose you too much trouble. Given, the time limits can get a bit tight at times, but as long as you don’t eat right before, capacity wise, they are all manageable.
Know your capacity. Going into this, I knew this would be pushing it in a short timeframe, but I also knew where my max out is, so I was confident I could power through it. Know yourself, take on challenges you are comfortable with. Don’t try be a hero, chances are you will lose, and that will put you off ever trying again. I have seen many people ‘who can smash that’ eat a slice of humble pie and tap out since they overestimated themselves and didn’t do basic research into what they were getting into.
Turns out I don’t like pancakes as much as I thought I liked pancakes. In my mind, pancakes = awesome, but eating lots wasn’t what I expected. I’m sure there is a lesson in there somewhere about the way we approach food and our eating habits. For me now, pancakes are a food I know I will enjoy a couple of, but won’t want a whole stack. Those pictures of large stacks with butter on top don’t appeal to me anymore.
Next time, I will probably not eat so much the day before either since going into this I didn’t feel hungry. Trying to hype yourself up can be tough sometimes. Remember, this should be fun, you should be looking forward to having a go, so plan accordingly.
Once again, the people were great, and part of why I do this is to see the looks on people’s faces. But, I doubt I will be doing something like this again next year, I want to keep this fun, but I don’t regret doing this. It was a good test and I got a few good laughs out of it.
So, what did you get up to on Pancake Day? Let me know in the comments below.