Early Christians had their Shrove Tuesday, a.k.a. Pancake Day or Fat Tuesday, also the Tuesday immediately before Ash Wednesday. In preparation for their observance. At the beginning of Lent, when they abstained from meat, fat, eggs, dairy products and most food pleasures, they created Fat Tuesday, designed to use up all the Lent-forbidden items, a last fling for the religiously serious. They shot the works to their pancakes this day.
Every culture needed its pancakes: Eventually each learned to grind grains into flour and adding a little liquid made patties possible if singed on a hot surface or rock to make them retain shape. Alas, simple, warm food! Fast forward to colonial America and a much later time. Here, slaves carried homemade dry pancake “mixes” in a pouch to the fields with them. When it was time to eat, they added water to the pouch, worked it into a batter and baked patties on a hot hoe over an open fire.
Virtually all nations have at least one dish which uses a pancake as useful container for fillings or toppings:
British Isles: Scottish Bannocks, English crumpets, oat cakes
China: Egg rolls or spring roll.
England: Yorkshire pudding is a baked pancake
Italy: Cannelloni (filled crepes)
Kosher: Matzos pancake, blintzes
Latin America: Enchiladas in tortillas
Mexico: Enchilladas, tacos, meat and salad in tortillas
Newfoundland: Hotcakes served with molasses
Romania: Spinach pancakes
Russia: Buckwheat blinis
Southern India: Lentil patties
Southern US: Cracklin’ bread
West Indies: Green corn cakes, or corn oyster fritters
The combinations are infinite, and you are restricted only by your imagination. Select a basic pancake recipe or mix. Feel free to stretch your options, by separating batter into smaller bowls and vary what you add to each.
Here’s some change-ups:
Vary additions of liquids, nuts, spices and fruits
Puree, or finely chop, fruit, vegetables even meats
Add cereals, hot or cold for interesting effects
Use novelty meals, such as corn, sorghum or quinoa
Flours such as with whole-wheat flour, soy flour, buckwheat flour, wheat germ, cornmeal or brown rice flour
Add mushrooms, cheeses, maybe Roquefort cheese or almond cream
Try liquors such as rum, sherry, pina colada, cognac in pancakes or in topping
Pieces of candy or candy bars
Experiment with pizza toppings, omelet ingredients, hors d’oeuvres makings in pancakes
When it comes to toppings, turn your imagination loose. This leaves you free to work with any of a number of syrups, fancy butters, chutneys, yogurts, grated cheese–you dream it up!