Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Fat Pancake Tuesday

If I'm anything, I'm consistent in my inconsistency. At least this time there's only been 470 days since my last post.

2014 saw many trials, many cakes and many changes. But I'm proud to say that I've come out on the other side and my adventures in the UK continue, but now as a bona fide Brit.

Indeed, I've passed a test, sworn an oath and was given a medal. I can brew a proper cuppa, say “cheers” freely in all social situations and have completely forgotten how to pronounce “basil”.

But getting here has been a tad rocky. (There’s a bit of a British understatement for you.) And much as sewing was a way for me to acclimatise when I first emigrated, cooking has been a meditative outlet that’s helped me through some of the more difficult times.

Unemployed? Bake a cake! Overwhelmed by student debt? Learn to flambé! Homesick? Perfect the pulled pork sandwich!

My father taught me to bake while he was a stay at home dad and we would make chocolate chip cookies between Sesame Street and Eureka’s Castle. I know this helped inspire my food desire because like many Americans I was sold the idea that cooking is difficult and I’ve had to fight against this. Why peel an egg or dice an onion when you can buy a gadget on QVC to do it for you? And how can I be expected to mash my own potatoes or make stuffing when it's safer to just add water to a dodgy beige powder from a box.

But now I whip my own cream, blind bake my own pie crust and have been known to can my own ketchup or even mayo my own nnaise. It's been cathartic and creative and I think I'll keep it up.

Yesterday was Pancake Day (better known in the US as Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras or Get Drunk off Your Face on a Tuesday Day). In Britain, you’re meant to clear out your cupboards in order to indulge and occasionally someone will remember that there’s some religious connotation to it.

But in the UK, a pancake is a crêpe, and no offense to crêpes, but they ain’t no pancakes. (Especially seeing as they’re French, but I’ll save my views on the confused affair the English have with the French and their language for another time.) So in the spirit of taking any opportunity to entwine American traditions with British culture, and always being keen to cater, I enforced a “breakfast for dinner” gathering on my housemates.

If I may: blueberry buttermilk pancakes, served with apples stewed in spiced rum and vanilla bourbon bananas, topped with chopped pecans, whipped cream cheese and homemade cinnamon syrup and a side of pancetta bacon.

In your face, crêpes.