Bad Pancake Day

My grandmother on my father’s side made excellent pancakes.  They were always thick and served with lemon and sugar or golden syrup.  They’ve always been a quick and useful comfort food or ready meal when time was short or culinary expectations are undisturbed by ‘poncey’ nouvelle cuisine that wouldn’t feed a starving sparrow.

The recipe is simple and I’ve always been able to knock up a good plate of hot pancakes at short notice as long as the eggs, flour and milk of my preferred recipe have been available or can be quickly bought at the corner store.  I find that one heaped dessertspoon of plain flour for each egg mixed with enough milk to treble the volume of the flour and egg mixture does the trick.  The pan, of course, needs to be hot enough to cause a little oil (I use olive oil) to start to smoke before adding the mixture to the pan. If you get the consistency right the pancake will be easy to flip in about 75 seconds.  Yummy with sugar and lemon but you can make savoury ones as well (cheese, ham and onion works well).

Then of course there’s the cultural difference.  In Belgium, my wife calls pancakes, crêpes (this sounds like cr eh p) as the ‘s’ is not sounded in this case (as is the case for most French plural nouns) and they shouldn’t be thick and they shouldn’t have such a large radius.  Pronounced correctly, someone putting a plate of steaming crêpes on the table will always cause an inner smile!

Recently, however, I have had some bad pancake days!  Days when no matter how focussed I am on the task the resulting blob sitting in the pan is both a mystery and an embarrassment.  I use the same ratio of flour to eggs to milk, the same pan on the same ring on the same cooker and naught but blobs result.  Why this happens I have no idea.  This falls into the same class of weirdness as ‘Where on Earth did I put my glasses?”  Managing glasses is a nightmare; keys – no problem, wallet – no problem (although the money contained therein is another issue).  It almost drives me to despair and a belief in malign spirits – this happens even when my children aren’t around to reorganise the house.

It is, of course, nothing more than having too much to focus on in a fast-moving world – the brain’s function’s to ensure our survival and for that it cannot focus on everything in its surroundings.  Glasses are a recent addition (OK, it’s been 10 years!) to the list of things to manage on a daily basis and have not yet become a part of who I am.  Setting age aside, I’m also living in a different country where there are enough different things assaulting my senses everyday to make it necessary to expend a lot of energy to be able to do things that just happened without too much thought while I lived in England.

Perhaps the pancakes are trying to tell me something.

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