Pancakes are Funcakes
Marty Martindale

Pancakes have a history all their own. There’s the religious history of pancakes, and there’s the “necessity is the mother of invention” history of pancakes.

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.

Egypt:  Katief

England: Yorkshire pudding is a baked pancake

France:  Crepes

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

Trinidad:  Roti

Wales:  Crempop

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!

Marty Martindale

About Marty Martindale

Foodsite Magazine and Marty aim to help the cooking-challenged avoid dependence on others due to lack of cooking knowhow. We concentrate on quick breakfasts, portable lunches and “good-4-u” night meals. With readily available web translation, the magazine explains separate foods, a little of their history, their nutrition, suggested “go-withs,” serving ideas and links to foodsites with recipes.

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