Today is Day 2 of the Blizzard of 2013 or as The Weather Channel has dubbed it, “Winter Storm Nemo”. Richard and I are sending good thoughts to fellow New Englanders affected by the blizzard. We also say “thanks” to all of our friends, neighbors and Hodgdon Island Inn Alumni who have been keeping us in their thoughts and prayers – we greatly appreciate the love and concern.
Whether you choose to call it “the blizzard” or “Winter Storm Nemo” it doesn’t alter the fact that we are dealing with virtual whiteout conditions, excessive winds, massive amounts of snow, and huge drifts – first to the south and then to the north! Needless to say, Richard and I are having a delightful day in.
Richard has started painting again. I love watching him as he brings the images on canvas to life. In the background we are listening to some of our favorite DVDs (mostly British dramas and/or mysteries, and okay, yes, the odd episode of Downtown Abbey). And me you ask? What am I doing? Well, I am curled up on the exquisite down-filled chaise lounge reading. Reading what you ask?! I am trading back and forth from cookbook (Ina Garten) to Kindle (yes, I’m afraid I’ve succumbed to technology) and to an old, but much loved, paperback copy of Lilian Jackson Braun’s The Cat Who Saw Red.
In The Cat Who Saw Red, the hero, a newspaperman named James McIntosh Qwilleran, has been given a new assignment of “food reviewer” for his imaginary newspaper, The Daily Fluxion. I have to admit it’s making me hungry – hence the switch to the cookbook. And what does one make for dinner in the middle of a blizzard?!
Answer: pancakes! Yum! So that starting me thinking about pancakes – you know – where did they come from? How long have they been around, etc? So, here are a few fun facts:
1) Archaeological evidence suggests that pancakes are probably the earliest and most widespread cereal food eaten in prehistoric societies
2) The Oxford English Dictionary records the word flapjack as being used as early as the beginning of the 17th century, referring to a flat tart or pan-cake.
3) The terms pancake and flapjack are often confused and today in the US are nearly synonymous.
4) A flapjack is a thick small pancake, generally around 10 cm in diameter. Flapjacks are often served in a stack with syrup and butter, which can be accompanied by bacon or sausages.
5) Shakespeare refers to pancakes in All’s Well That Ends Well and to flap-jacks in Pericles, Prince of Tyre: “Come, thou shant go home, and we’ll have flesh for holidays, fish for fasting-days, and moreo’er puddings and flap-jacks, and thou shalt be welcome.”Act II Scene I
6) German pancakes or Dutch baby pancakes are bowl-shaped. They are eaten with lemons and powdered sugar, jam, fresh fruit or caramelized apples.
7) In Canada, the United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia, pancakes are traditionally eaten on Shrove Tuesday, which is also known as “Pancake Day” and, particularly in Ireland and Scotland, as “Pancake Tuesday”. (Shrove Tuesday is better known in the United States, France and other countries as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday). Pancake Tuesday is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Historically, pancakes were made on Shrove Tuesday so that the last of the fatty and rich foods such as eggs, milk and sugar could be used up before fasting began at the start of Lent.
Hmmm, well, I think it’s going to be …