Columns

2017.09.27 A special day for pancakes

By DAVID GREEN

Such important e-mail comes my way every day.

There are insurance offers, miracle drug offers and frying pan offers. I’m given the opportunity to transition into the new ISO quality standards and to learn why my non-existent mortgage is a waste of money.

I can get free beauty gifts with cosmetics purchases and fat loss with Dr. Oz. There are wonderful business proposals from Dr. Mohamed in South Africa and Bible-inspired self-published books—lots of them. And don’t forget the HOT dates with adoring Asian women.

I should use some of these to my advantage, such as fodder for a column, and I think a barely usable one arrived last week: National Pancake Day on Sept. 26.

It’s a meaningless holiday listed by National Today, a group that makes most every day something special. Monday was National Lobster Day, Thursday is National Drink Beer Day and Friday is National Coffee Day.

Saturday and every day that follows is National Who Cares? Day.

The e-mail asks me to consider this: one in five Americans eat pancakes every week. Then it tells me this: 25 percent of Americans eat pancakes every week, which you know is one in four, not one in five.

This information allegedly comes from a survey of 1,000 people and only 20 of them claimed to hate pancakes. Six hundred of them love pancakes, 340 like pancakes and 40 dislike pancakes, but not to the extent of hating them. That’s reserved for a very special group that probably has lobster and beer for breakfast.

Fascinating stuff ahead: seven percent of those surveyed eat a plate of pancakes individually, while 12 percent cut through them all at once.

Actually, the mail says that seven percent eat all of the pancakes in their short stack separately. 

Short stack? The definition varies. Of course there is a Wikipedia entry:

Some pancakes served in restaurants are 3 to 4 pancakes of more or less 14 cm (5 inch) diameter. A smaller number may be ordered by asking for a "short stack". Restaurants usually serve 1 or 2 pancakes of more or less 25 cm (10 inches) diameter.

I remember the day a new cook arrived in a resort hotel up north where I served as dishwasher and general boy-about-the-grounds. She was given an order for a long stack of pancakes and she created something that I was probably given to eat: long, thin pancakes.

Many additional facts about pancakes are presented on the National Today website. I learn about pancakes around the world, the history of pancakes, the fact that pancakes are mentioned in only two of Shakespeare’s plays.

I learn that pancakes are versatile and can be eaten for dinner. I learn that pancakes make us happy and make us feel good. The aroma, alone, can make us feel content. It’s just a happy food.

Well, not always. I recall the day our son Ben said to his mother, “Do you always have to burn them?” It’s been a running joke now for 30 years.

Ben and his friend, Brock, once prepared breakfast to deliver to Colleen in bed on Mother’s Day. The toast was quite black, but Ben said, “I know you like them burned.”

When pancakes are cooked, there’s a little hubbub about who is going to get the first one because despite the aroma and the happiness, the first one seems to always be a mess in some way—not quite done or burned. It takes some fine tuning to get it all right.

One of my most memorable pancake incidents occurred on my 21st birthday when an East Lansing pancake establishment offered 21 free silver dollar pancakes. They actually exceeded silver dollar size.

I tried to conjure up a memory for every one that I ate, something from every year. By the time I got into my late teens, I was feeling pretty sick of my life.

That’s about all I can offer about the “fluffy breakfast treat,” as National Day calls it, but since I started writing this, I have received information about a joint pain treatment that insurance companies refuse to cover, and also about why glucophage makes a person sick.

It just doesn’t stop.