Today is Shrove Tuesday. That means it’s 41 days until Easter Egggggies! (That will come as a shock to my supermarket, which had Easter eggs on its shelves on 2nd January!)
But let us forget the eggies for the moment for, today, all over the civilised world, people should be pigging out on pancakes. (The civilised world expands and contracts as I see fit, so for today it excludes most Catholics, many non-English speakers and all people of non-Christian faiths, but includes anyone who cares more about pancakes than religion.)
As a child, there was only One True Pancake. It was thin. Not quite crêpe-thin, but close enough for the crêpe-free people not to know the difference. Each pancake was bestrewn with soft brown sugar. Sometimes the sugar would clump into little black balls. We called those cockroaches. And then we squeezed lemon juice over it, watching the cockroaches slowly dissolve. Quick! Roll up the pancake and suck the sugary, lemony juice out of the roll.
I feel sorry for those uncivilised places (Germany, Sweden, France, …) where you can’t get the lovely, moist, fine brown sugar necessary for this primal pancake pleasure.
After rolling in pancakes, I began to reflect on what pancake means to people on less important days of the culinary calendar. Pancake has always meant thin for me and I’ve become increasingly disturbed by the spread of those thick things as the default. For me, those thick, leavened things are either pikelets (the smaller ones, also called drop scones or Scotch pancakes) or American-style pancakes (larger, often slathered with syrup).
I wonder what my readers think (depending where you live, of course) — what do you immediately think of when you hear or read ‘pancake’? And have you always had the same default pancake in your head?
[For anti-pancakers, please consider Swedish Easter buns, which I wrote about last year.]