What’s Cookin’ on Fat Tuesday? Hot Cakes. March 4 Is Also International Pancake Day

by Nancy Wurtzel on March 2, 2014

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Tuesday, March 4th is Fat Tuesday.  It’s also International Pancake Day.  Will you be marking the occasion?

I’m planning on whipping up a batch of flapjacks and enjoying them with a side of scrambled eggs and some hot coffee.  I like my cakes made with traditional batter and topped with butter and real maple syrup.  When I’m feeling a little wild, I might add a handful of fresh blueberries, but that’s about as far as I venture.

You might say I am a pancake purist.

However, it’s come to my attention that not everyone agrees with this viewpoint.  A simple google of “pancake recipes,” resulted in more than 18 million results.

There were, of course, the Plain Jane variety — the type I prefer — but there were also concoctions for cakes filled with bananas, nuts, oats or chocolate chips.  There were pancakes made in every color of the rainbow (think food dye), burger pancakes and even a Chicken Satay variety.  Not to mention the relatively new cake-batter, style pancakes.  Evidently, red velvet topped with sprinkles is one of the more popular choices.

Some of the other recipes I found online were for pancakes with names like eggnog nosh flapjacks, pineapple upside down, lemon ricotta, caviar cakes and spinach cheesy hot cakes.

Honestly, to me, these all sound awful.  However, my traditional pancake leanings were no doubt influenced by my Midwest childhood

When I was a kid growing up in small-town Minnesota, we had strictly conventional pancakes and they were only served for Sunday breakfast.  My mother wasn’t partial to thick, fluffy cakes, she made hers thin and crispy.  My dad got a stack of regular, round hotcakes, but the pancakes served to my sisters and me odd shapes and sizes that we could rarely decipher.

Its Mickey Mouse!” Mom would exclaim with a broad smile.  I’d look down at the misshapen blob on my plate and wonder if Mom had ever actually seen a picture of the Disney icon.  Poor Mickey was a sight for sore eyes, but luckily tasted great.

I don’t blame Mom for trying.

Mom knew the secret recipe.  Even if she failed at making pancake characters, a big part of what makes a great cake is the emotion and care that goes into them.  Pancakes are basically a simple food that has been laced with love.  If you take mashed potatoes out of the running, pancakes are probably the ultimate comfort food.

In fact, pancakes have been bringing comfort for a very, very long time, and (surprise, surprise) a variation of the pancake is eaten in just about every culture around the world.

A grain-type of cooked cake can be traced all the way back to the Stone Age.  Many centuries later, the Ancient Greeks made a thinner form of what we now consider pancakes.  Fast forward to more modern times: The Dutch created the waffle, or, as I like to call it, Pancake Cousin.   They also lay claim to pannenkoek, the fluffy version of the pancake that we know and love today.

In the English-speaking world, the word pancake was first recorded in the 1400s.  And, there you have it.  A short (stack) pancake history.

So, batter up folks!

Put a fire under the griddle and create some delicious pancakes.  Even if you opt for a wild variety of flapjack, you will no doubt enjoy your cake creation.  You’ll also make some yummy memories in the process.  Eat hardy!

*Photo from iStockphoto

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