A Life in Pancakes: Pancakes of Childhood

To glorify Pancake Day on Tuesday, i’ve decided to relive my greatest pancake memories. To begin, I present my complex relationship with pancakes as a young, obnoxious child growing up in Canada.

1. I spent much of my childhood at Clarence Baptist Church. Every Easter, the noble men of the congregation would cook ‘bunny pancakes’. There was much competition over who made the most realistic bunny shapes. It was very holy.

2. I suffered terrible pancake-related cultural dissonance when as a child my preference continuously flopped back and forth between my mother’s paper-thin Bristish lemon and sugar pancakes and my very cool Grandma’s thick, fluffy, buttery American pancakes, dripping with syrup. I loved both. Publically, I sided with the American pancakes, but secretly, I just didn’t know and it caused me great distress. At 24, I learned that South African pancakes beat them both and this lifelong conflict was resolved.

3. As a young child, my parents knew I had a remarkable ability to eat pancakes. They’d always count how many I could eat in a sitting- 6, 9, 17, 23 etc… As a result, they treated me like a sideshow act. They’d take me into a pancake house (IHOP, Golden Griddle, etc…) and as we were being seated, I’d always announce to the waitress that I was “having pancakes please” and my parents would chip in, “just wait until you see how many pancakes this kid will eat!” They would proceed to order me plate after plate after plate of pancakes with no regard whatsoever for my health. And at Golden griddle, they’d always order me an extra tub of maple syrup too. When I was about to burst, they’d laugh and say, “Well, I think you’ve finally beaten her…!” to the waitress as she took my plate away. This happened every time and by the time I was 14, it just wasn’t funny anymore.

4. One of my very earliest memories involves me staying with a strange lady in Ottawa who was definitely not one of my parents. I haven’t got a clue who this woman was or why I was staying with her, but I remember she got me up very early in the morning and took me to buy a Barbie doll, and then said we were going to McDonalds for breakfast. I remember being upset (but still thankful) at the prospect of a burger for breakfast, before she explained that McDonalds did pancakes. This changed my life. My parents had withheld this information from me.

6. When I was about five, I was playing in the basement with my younger cousin (pictured), when my mom called us up for pancakes. The smell of pancakes wafted down the stairs. As she climbed the stairs, the cousin jokingly declared, “I can smell it! I can smell it! I can puke in it!” My mom completely lost her mind. In all the years since, I have never seen her so completely enraged. This is also the source of the emetophobia I suffered for the next 20 years.

7. For a while, my dad had a lot of business in Florida. We spent a few separate holidays there, but always stayed at the Double Tree Guest Suites in Orlando. On each trip, every morning at 6 or so, I’d go down to restaurant alone and sit at the bar with a huge plate of pancakes watching Gilligan’s Island on the bar TV and talking to the nice Jamaican waitress. She even fixed my broken sandals once. Good times. The photo below is from one of those visits. Note the goofy hat, which served as my Halloween costume for the next 5 years, the troll doll keychain, the hockey shirt, the huge plastic glasses and the ‘bum bag’. But note also that absolutely everyone in the background is also wearing a ‘bum bag’. That makes it okay.

8. We’d have pancake dinners at home often enough, but it’s the pancake breakfasts that were a real treat. For some reason (lazylazymother) we never had pancake breakfasts at home. I absolutely despised friends who saw pancakes as a breakfast food. I openly scoffed in their faces. I only ever had pancake breakfasts when we were travelling, so I’ve come to associate them with holidays and highway service stations and hotel restaurants and my all time love, the continental breakfast. Finding a hotel which featured pancakes in its continental breakfast was like winning the lottery. Below: Las Vegas was a goldmine for pancake breakfasts.

9. I had one of those little plastic tupperware cooking sets when I was young. My mother saw this as a chance to get me making my own pancakes. This was never as enjoyable as it could have been, because she was extremely irrational when it came to the stirring process. She believed that all pancakes were doomed to FAIL unless you cautiously dug a tiny hole in the flour in the bottom of the bowl. To this hole, you would have to add the milk drop by drop and stir a few grains of flour into the drops of milk before repeating the process again, and again, and again, and again, and again until the mixture finally became ‘pancake batter’. There is no better way to suck the fun out of pancakes.

Up next: The move to England… pancakes and university…

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