Pancakes. You probably didn’t expect to see that word leading off your Friday Happy Hour here at The Back Burner. But the word paints quite a picture. But what kind of picture may say something about where you live and eat. So when I say pancake do you think of Sunday morning? Does your mind automatically go to maple syrup? Maybe blueberries?
If you just licked your lips and nodded ‘yes’ then there is a good chance you are from North America or very well acquainted with our pancake culture. Because steaming stacks of hotcakes dripping with syrup and melted butter does indeed conjure up comfortable memories of hearth and home. But traditional pancakes don’t need to be homemade to be homey. Nor do they need to be American. In fact the griddlecake we Americans so associate with special breakfasts probably has its roots in a similarly prepared Scottish pancake.
Which of course got me thinking about the roots of this simple food. One thing is for sure the pancake is an ancient food. In fact man was cooking on the griddle long before he ever got around to figuring out the concept of an oven. There are recipes for pancakes, in fact, that appear in cookbooks as far back as the height of the Roman Empire. That ancient Roman version combines honey and pepper. Which is an intriguing combination…
Which proves pancakes are far more universal and much more diverse than that stack of flapjacks we delightedly shovel in our mouths in preparation of the day’s activities. In fact it seems there is a rendition of the pancake in almost every culture. Sometimes they are a breakfast food, sometimes a midday snack purchased from a street vendor. Some countries feature them as a savory part of meal. They certainly make delicious desserts too.
What truly defines a pancake though, is a bit hazy. It certainly can’t be defined by geography as I think I have just proven. But the idea of a basic batter, cooked in a pan and embellished to suit your tastes remains constant in any language, and at any time of the day. Even Happy Hour. Because there’s a wonderful cocktail nosh known as a blini. Specifically the buckwheat blini. To make this little blini is a true Tidbit and Noshy thing– perfectly appropriate to serve with a martini– I am going to top this savory little pancake with caviar and traditional accompaniments like sour cream, hard-boiled egg and red onion. GREG