vendredi, octobre 03, 2008

Perfect Pancakes

I've been thinking a lot about pancakes lately.

I blame Dooce. She talked about how she and her husband finally convinced their daughter to try pancakes at a restaurant, thereby expanding her approved food list to five items. The only problem being that Dooce didn't know how to make pancakes the next morning when her daughter asked for them.

Which got me thinking. First about my mom's Swedish pancakes, which are a lighter, more crepe-like version than the thick stack of flapjack-like numbers you'd get in your average diner. OOooooo. Diner. I suddenly really want diner food. Chocolate milkshake, cheeseburger and fries. With a side of pancakes.

No, seriously. I only like my Mom's pancakes, so that's the only kind I make or order.

Pancakes are one of those rare pieces of American culture that remain slightly exotic over here. A normal French breakfast is a slice of baguette with butter, or a brioche with jam, a croissant, or a yogurt. Sadly, they've also adopted the horrendously colored sugary cereals as well, but we'll ignore that for now.

Because of the quintessential American-ness of pancakes, it's been fun sharing the experience of making and serving them with Handsome and other friends. They're ridiculously easy to make, and it turns a morning ritual into something special.

This summer we were staying at some friends' house in the country, where they had cooked lunch and dinner for two weeks. I wanted to do something in return, so the day before we left, I made pancakes for everybody.

The women gathered around to see what exotic things I was putting in this intriguing mixture. One of them looked downright disappointed when she discovered it was only a matter of eggs, flour, milk and butter, with a dash of salt and sugar.

"Oh," she said, thoroughly unimpressed, "it's just like crepe batter, only thicker." And with that, she turned straight back to reading her fashion magazine.

I've talked before about the importance of aesthetics over practicality in some aspects of French life. Remember the hanging files?

When I was ready to start cooking the pancakes, our hostess looked worried.

"I'm afraid I don't have a mold for you to use," she said, knitting her brow and looking dubiously at the frying pan I was preparing.

"A mold?" I asked, confused. "Why would I need a mold?"

"So the pancakes are round," she said, surprised I needed to ask.

I burst out laughing.

Yes, god love 'em, they use a mold to make them perfectly round, one at a time.

That is so fucking cute, it kills me.