Pancakes ( Our diabolical regression in the Art of cooking)

January 30, 2013

Of course, our eating habits have changed. Who would have thought mums now buy a plastic bottle with the advice ‘just shake it’? The ‘just shake it’ seems to be a prepared kind of pancake mix. I would imagine the intending cook fills up the empty space in the plastic bottle with milk and then ‘just shake’ it, with mixture ready for pancake making. It probably makes about five or six pancakes and at $ 1.85 works out at the outrageous price of 30cents a pancake, not including the golden syrup or jam on top. Perhaps the ‘just shake it’ has been embedded from a latent subliminal message from eager husbands pestering tired wives late at night. A clever use of product enhancement.

It must be back-breaking work to put flour in a bowl, and then add some milk, a couple of eggs and whisk the lot together and get the old fashioned pan-cake mixture for a quarter of the cost. Walking slowly past the supermarket’s shelves there were other similar products. A cheese in a tube, some powder that turns into instant mashed potato, but the most irksome of them all, and H is so sick of me commenting on them, are…simmering sauces. My eyes forever keeping guard on our dietary habits, I even spotted a kind of meat-spread in a tube. It was called, I think, devilish spread which came in mild and spicy.

Yet, again, I switched on the telly and it’s almost obligatory now to find and watch a cooking show. No matter what time, there is someone with eyes turned heavenly upwards, saying ‘oh, how yum’ or ‘wow’. Fresh ingredients are tossed together; fish, meat, snails, frogs are being infused, thrown about and cooked almost to the point of a kind of Le Mans’ car race.

It’s all very confusing. There are options in watching French, Italian; Spanish cooks either cooking away in their own country or in top restaurants in Britain. They seem so enthusiastic, you wonder if they have mattresses tucked behind those huge gleaming stainless steel stoves and just take quick naps in between the stacking of delicious looking char-grilled hearts of goats and noodles with infused ginger and deep fried shreds and strips of celeriac with chanterelle-shiitake mushrooms on giant plates.

Then there are culinary delights shown in Vietnam, Indonesia, Burma, even Thailand. Fresh fish swimming, frogs are croaking and eels or snakes still slithering about. Within minutes it is all cooked and on the table with huge smiling families feasting away.

If pancake making is the only thing my grandkids will remember me by; so be it. It would be nice to have an epitaph on my pebble crete slab; “here lies the greatest pancake- maker” (but keep off the grass).

Cooking needs to be an act of love. You can never cook something in total indifference. When the kids are over, pancake making has almost religious overtones. Their own parents’ pancakes seem to lack ‘crispy edges’, I was told by Max who is the youngest of the three grandsons adding, ‘they are alright though’, not wanting to dob in his parents.

It is not as if I swoon over every pancake but I do hand mix the dough adding water and pinch of salt. I use real butter and cook on two cast iron solid pans on high heat. When I gently lower the mixture into the pan, the edges frizzle and sizzle out into the much desired golden crispy and crunchy edging. While hot, I rush them over to the kids seated at the round table, fork and knife in hand and at the ready. I squeeze some lime juice and sprinkle a light dusting of sugar.

I leave the rest to them.

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