Pancake Fiends

Date July 4, 2007

It’s that once-every-few-years occurrence of a 4th of July that falls dead in the middle of the week. That makes for an odd-ish one-day, midweek holiday. I spent the day in the garage sorting through and boxing up stuff. There’s a bit of pressure there, as I need to make sure I keep out any tools that might be required for dismantling furnishings for the move, AND I need to label everything well enough that I’ll be able to get to the appropriate tools quickly as we discover various short-term tasks that need to be tackled in the new house upon move-in.

Before all that, though, I made pancakes for breakfast. Julie suggested it, and I had to question her — I’d made a triple batch of pancakes on Saturday before we left for San Antonio. Were they really all already gone? Apparently so. A triple batch is ~50 pancakes. I use the basic recipe out of the Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook, except I add 50% more milk (1.5 cups instead of 1 cup) because the kids like their pancakes fairly thin. Neither Julie nor I are big pancake fans, so, more often than not, I wind up making some sort of egg-based dish for us. A triple-batch of pancakes is good for ~3 breakfasts with our kids, as far as I can tell. Of course, Alana likes to snack on them during the day. It’s sort of like her own little rice cake — she’ll grab one cold and wander around munching on it until it’s gone.

Back when I was Benton’s age, or maybe a year or two older, our family drove to San Antonio to visit my dad’s parents. This was within a year or two of my grandparents adding a room on to the back of their house. There was a big cased opening from the kitchen to that room, which was primarily a second living area. But, between the kitchen and the couches was a dining area. One morning of that visit, my grandmother made a dish that, apparently, had been one of my dad’s favorites when we was growing up: buckwheat pancakes. Now, I honestly don’t know what makes buckwheat flour different from plain old all-purpose white flour. In my mind (then and now), they mix in a bunch of grass and weeds, and maybe even soybeans and corn husks, with perfectly good flour. All I know is that those pancakes tasted awful to me!

Keep in mind that, growing up, Kim and I had to: 1) take a little bit of every dish for any given meal, and 2) clean our plates. In hindsight, and even at the time, these didn’t seem unreasonable and they seemed to teach some nice life skills (like controlling a gag reflex when facing down a dollop of cranberry sauce). Despite the fact that I understood, accepted, and abided by these ironclad rules…those buckwheat pancakes were not going down. I managed one bite and was then done for.

I wish I could remember the book — I’m thinking it was a John Irving one — where the protagonist finds himself at the dining room table staring down his meal so long after dinner that he falls asleep and the rest of the family forgets he’s there. I was facing a similar fate…except the dining table was right in the flow of all activity in the house. My dad was, presumably, embarrassed that his son was turning up his nose at his mother’s cooking. And, presumably, also somewhat worried that he would be judged as not having instilled sufficiently good manners in me. He dug his heels in. This…was probably a mistake on his part, because then he really couldn’t find a way to get us out of the stalemate. He underestimated my dislike of the buckwheat pancakes. I clearly remember that I would have dearly loved to have been able to fight them down. But it wasn’t going to happen. I don’t know if the stalemate lasted for 15 minutes or an hour, but my grandmother finally stepped in and whisked the pancakes away. I imagine that there were some fiercely whispered exchanges in the kitchen as to whether this would be allowed or not. One thing about Grandmother Wilson, though…she was a force to be reckoned with. I’ll never know if she was disgusted with me or whether she pitied me.

But I’ll never try buckwheat pancakes again. I haven’t since, and I likely never will.

3 Responses to “Pancake Fiends”

  1. Chris Wilson said:

    Really, Tim – buckwheat. It’s not as evil as Google. 🙂

  2. Gilligan said:

    I don’t know… I just went and read the Wikipedia entry, it says the “etymology of the word is explained as partial translation of Middle Dutch boecweite : boek, beech; see PIE bhago- + weite, wheat.” I don’t know Middle Dutch pronunciation, but I can’t imagine any of those words not sounding at least a little like the speaker is gagging! Did your dad or Grandmother ever make buckwheat pancakes for you guys?!

  3. Chris Wilson said:

    I think Dad did, yeah – I don’t remember Grandmother ever making them. I do remember her trying to get us to drink buttermilk, though.

    Of course, now our usual pancake breakfasts are buttermilk buckwheat, so clearly I’ve moved past that particular scarring.

    Of course, I still retch when I get too close to a zucchini. 🙂

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