The Pancake Story


I love pancakes. Plain-Jane, simple warm, golden pancakes. Throw some melted butter and delicious maple syrup on there and look out! You can keep your blueberries and your pecans or chocolate chips or whatever you put in yours. I call that sacrilege. Just the good old straight up pancakes for this guy.

It’s not like I haven’t tried different types of pancakes before. A couple years ago, I was in Gdansk, Poland and we had pancakes one morning for breakfast. Imagine, if you can, the amount of exuberance and cheer with which I sat down at the table. There might have even been a pirouette involved. Honestly there is nothing better than familiar food in a foreign country. They call it comfort food for a reason, and I was comfortable with that plate of pancakes.

Ah, but how naive I was. I dug in with care-free abandon, laughing, smiling and chewing. There was no syrup or anything like that for me to put on my pancakes, but they were pretty good by themselves. They were huge too! The borders of the pancakes were hanging over the side of the plate.

It took me a second to realize that everyone was looking at me. Apparently, I was doing it wrong. I was not supposed to be eating them plain. One of my hosts told me I needed to put some cream on the pancake. There was a bowl of thick cream there on the table in front of me. I looked at it, and it looked harmless enough. I thought to myself, some whipped cream will probably be pretty good on a pancake anyway.

Then he passed me another bowl and told me I should put some of this jelly on it. Yeah, the jelly was called “cowberry” jelly. That did not sound nearly as appealing to me. Seriously, what in the world is cowberry? But… when in Poland, do as the Polish do, right?

So I somewhat begrudgingly applied the cream across the pancake, and then I dabbed some “cowberry” jelly over the top. I have to admit, it didn’t look to bad when I finished my prep. I mean it could be good. Whipped cream and jelly on a pancake is didn’t seem that odd an combination.

You know what is an odd combination? SOUR cream and jelly and a pancake. What I had mistaken for whipped cream was indeed sour cream. And that tasted AWFUL. And cowberry jelly? That did not taste much better.

Maybe it was a practical joke by the people I was staying with. Either way, I learned my lesson. You can’t ruin a good plain pancake if you keep it plain. So I might be boring, but at least I don’t regret my decision when I sit down to breakfast. So I am never putting any type of cream on my pancake ever again.

(photo courtesy of Grant Cochrane/