A Life in Pancakes: St. Andrews University

So, continuing with my completely unnecessary and longwinded celebration of pancakes…

As I grew, I left Canada for England. My appetite diminished and I could no longer eat 21 pancakes in a sitting. Pancakes lost their significance. They didn’t bring me the joy they once did. Eventually, I ended up at St. Andrews University in Scotland, where I regrettably spent most of my time being a depressed hermit, but I did manage to re-ignite my relationship with the pancake.

1. It will first be said that pancakes are done differently in the United Kingdom. This is not a compliment. I must say that I don’t swear. I never, ever swear. I doesn’t sound nice and it doesn’t make anyone look clever. There are very few things merit one of those nasty little words. But in the UK, I quickly learned that not only do people eat pizza with knives and forks, but they’re also prone to putting something called ‘golden syrup’ on their pancakes instead of maple syrup. So here it is. Golden syrup: what the fuck.

2. It started with a pan. One day while browsing the shelves at Dundee’s TK Maxx store, I found the most divine hot pink frying pan. I loved it and it loved me. From that moment on, I decided I was going to bring pancakes back into my life, by making them for myself… for the very first time.

3. At University, I was part of the ‘Christian Union’ and the chapter based at our hall of residence became notorious for our ‘pancake parties’. For weeks beforehand, we would plaster ads all over hall (carefully omitting our affiliation to any religious organization), inviting anyone and everyone to come and have some yummy ‘FREE PANCAKES!’ Once we’d corralled masses of evil atheists into a tiny kitchen with little or no chance of escape, one of our leaders would suddenly get everyone’s attention, break out a bible and give their testimony. It was as painful and awkward as it sounds.

4. Food colouring. When added to pancake batter, you can produce a pancake of any colour. I was especially fond of the blue and green ones, which I called ‘moon pancakes’. To get a really strong colour, you had to add half a bottle of colouring. ‘A few drops’ is insufficient and silly. Despite claims to the negative, in large enough quantities, food colouring DOES affect the taste of things, and it will make you feel very sick.

5. While at St. Andrews, I regularly had ice skating lessons in Dundee. I’d often go to early morning practice at 5am on a Saturday. This would always be followed by two consecutive pancake breakfasts at the McDonalds in the parking lot. I felt I could justify it. If my best friend was with me, we’d have to decide whether we were going to ‘pleb McDonalds’ or ‘posh McDonalds’… or the ‘spa’.

6. That same best friend was one of my least favourite people to eat pancakes with. I’d watch as she would layer sugar or syrup over her pancakes. And I mean layer. She could easily smear £8 of precious, pure, Canadian Maple Syrup onto just one pancake. This irritated me to no end. But that was old Mo who got irritated. New Mo would smile and laugh about it and lovingly watch her best friend making herself one utterly fabulous pancake.

7. My pancake making days at university were often marred by a lasting debate about spatulas. That same best friend (again) insisted that pancakes were flipped with a ‘flipper’. I insisted that they were flipped by a ‘spatula’. She insisted that a ‘spatula’ was one of those rubbery stick things you used to get mixture from the sides of a bowl. Our insistence made us both hugely angry with each other. In addition to that, I was also hugely angry with the whole concept of her ‘spatula’. There should be no tool for scraping the inside of a bowl. Bowls should be scraped with spoons or tongues and the scrapings should be treasured and savoured. The ‘spatula’ debate was never settled and 8 years later, I’m still afraid to bring it up.

8. I lived at 123 North Street for 2 years with the most awesome people imaginable. Our house hosted many, many epic pancake parties

9. Pancakes at university was a much loved tradition, but in fourth year, the magic ended for me when one of my male flatmates used my precious, precious pink pan to fry something terrible and greasy and boyish. The pan was mangled beyond recognition and I refused to use it again. Luckily, I didn’t need to, because there was a pancake place on South Street called ‘The Eating Place’, which made the most awesome pancakes. It was here that I had my first brush with the ‘savoury pancake’.

Next: Africa introduces a new set of pancake ideas…

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