The Everyday Lore Project

29 March 2020 – Carling Sunday

29 March 2020 – Carling Sunday

Today I have just not been feeling it. It’s been one of those days when I felt nothing could move forward. And the last thing I wanted to do was eat chickpeas.

Today is Carling Sunday, also known as Care or Carle Sunday, also known as Passion Sunday, also known as Whirling Sunday, the fifth Sunday of Lent. And Carling Sunday is all about peas. Carlin peas to be precise. Carlins are a pulse, not unlike a small brown chickpea, and like the Sunday, comes in a variety of names including Carlings, Grey Badgers, Parched, Pigeon or Maple peas. None of which I had.

So I thought I would make a whirlin or whirlwind cake for Whirling Sunday instead. But I couldn’t a recipe. If anyone in Cambridgeshire, where whirlin cakes were baked, knows of any, please let me know.

And back to the carlins again. Carlins are a traditional Northern dish of peas fried in butter or dripping, with salt and pepper, and a dash of vinegar, or some breadcrumbs, depending on the recipe. However, as it’s said Carling Sunday is also a day of compulsory drinking, a day when one has to spend one’s ‘carlin-groat’ on beer to avoid bad luck for the rest of the year, I went for the carlin dessert option: fried peas with brown sugar and rum. Except I didn’t have any butter or sugar, so really I didn’t have any of the ingredients for carlins, except for the rum. 

But I did have a tin of chickpeas, which I warmed through on the hob while melting some veg spread in a frying pan. When hot, I drained the chickpeas and fried them for a couple of minutes before adding some date syrup and some rum. Until the rum went in I was not excited by the smell at all. I would take boiled cabbage over boiled chickpeas any day. And then I turned them out. They weren’t unpleasant tasting, it’s just, you know, having to eat sweetened alcoholic chickpeas at the end of a difficult day. Needless to say this batch might last me a couple of days or get repurposed into a curry. Or compost. 

They just get bigger and bigger and are now pressed up against the window panes. I’m waiting for flowers, and the haulms to yellow now.

The Onion Update
They look a bit like cat grass. Luckily the cat is decidedly unimpressed. Watering is a worry in case I flatten them. Are they supposed to look like this? Or have I planted chives by mistake?


Cooper, Q. and Sullivan, P. (1994) Maypoles, Martyrs & Mayhem: 366 Days of British Myths, Customs & Eccentricities, London, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc

James, M. (2014) Cambridgeshire Folk Tales, Stroud, The History Press

Jones, J. and Deer, B. (1987) Cattern Cakes and Lace, London, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Roud, S. (2006) The English Year: A Month-By-Month Guide To The Nation’s Customs and Festivals, From May Day to Mischief Night, London, Penguin Books

Published by Liza Frank

Author of My Celebrity Boyfriend. Obsessed with hula hooping, sons of preachermen and fresh dates, sometimes all at the same time. Curator of Folklore Agony and The Everyday Lore Project.

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