But then something happened. What was it, you ask? Well, I started making pancakes myself, from scratch. I didn’t even realize that as a child I rarely (never?) had real pancakes. All the pancakes came from a mix, hence the boring, overly-bready texture, and I suspect that only rarely was the syrup real maple syrup. What a revelation when I started to make pancakes myself! The texture was so much better, and they were so flavorful, no longer needing to be totally drowned in syrup in order to taste good. In fact, now, sometimes I eat pancakes with only a dollop of fresh berries or jam, rather than syrup (though pure maple syrup is amazing and I highly recommend it with these particular pancakes). My new-found love for pancakes then spawned a general love for breakfast, and you can see that several of the recipes already posted on this blog are breakfast-oriented: French toast, muffins, sausages and beer (yeah, I know)….. It also helps that breakfast is an excuse to slow down and just relax. Particularly on Sunday mornings. Is there anything better?
My formula for the perfect breakfast is the following: pajama pants, messy hair, coffee (preferably cappuccinos), NPR (usually last week’s This American Life), friends (only close friends who are okay with pajama pants and messy hair), and a tasty but rather haphazard and clearly homemade breakfast. My pancakes are never round (reference photo above - they're really not pretty). The stove is usually a mess. There are no linen napkins or place settings. Hell, we’ll usually just sit on the couch. I might even put my feet on the coffee table. But damn, those pancakes are good.
I enjoy, in particular, making pancakes for my German friends. First, there are no pancakes in German cuisine. Crepes are well-known here, as is a local dish called Kaiserschmarrn (it is sometimes translated as “pancake scraps” although I would describe it as being somewhere between pancakes and French toast), and Pfannkuchen (which would literally translate to “pan cake” but which is more like a crepe, and to make it really confusing, in Berlin it’s a donut, and the source of JFK's famous blunder, "ich bin ein Berliner"). Second, maple syrup is a luxury here. It costs a lot, and it’s really hard to find good maple syrup; I bring it from the U.S. So, just generally, it’s a treat for my German friends to have “real American pancakes.” Third, I think Germans grow up with the storybook and Hollywood lore of the American pancake, but have often not had the opportunity to taste one. Except, of course, those Germans who’ve jumped on a plane and done one of the classic American roadtrips, complete with stops at roadside diners (Highway 1 and Route 66 seem to be on the bucket list of every German I have met). And in the case of those friends who’ve sat in an American truck stop diner and ordered a tall stack of buttermilk pancakes, maybe I can give them a little taste of those good memories from their vacation in America. Although I won’t be serving up any tall stacks… only big, misshapen, but ultimately even tastier, pancakes straight out of the frying pan in my little Munich kitchen.