So this is my ode to pancakes.
I like pancakes. And I make pretty good pancakes. I took the recipe from my copy of Joy of Cooking and altered it just a bit in order to make the pancakes fluffier. I’ve warmed the eggs to room temperature and separated them, then I beat the egg whites until they are not quite stiff and fold them into the batter. I find that doing this gives me a fluffier pancake.
When I was a kid, my mother made the best pancakes. They were from the Oster cookbook, which was a cookbook specifically dedicated to recipes that used the Oster blender, and they included cottage cheese and sour cream. They sound heavy, but they were light and fluffy and amazing.
I really like pancakes.
Here’s the thing, though.
If I want good pancakes, I have only two options in this city:
- I can make them myself, which is fine, but sometimes I like it when someone else cooks for me.
- I can drive all the way to the other side of the city and line up outside a popular brunch restaurant with hoards of foodies in order to spend a lot of money on something that shouldn’t really cost that much.
It’s not that I live in a food desert. On the contrary, there are several restaurants within five minutes of driving that will happily sell me pancakes. One even claims to specialize in crepes.
They do not, however, make good pancakes. They use a mix for their pancakes, which makes sense if you’re producing pancakes on a large scale for a consumer who either doesn’t know the difference or just doesn’t care about the quality of their food. So if I want good pancakes, I need to either make them myself or drive for about 45 minutes across town.
In the past few years, I’ve come to realize that many people here in Canada don’t necessarily know what good food is. I’ve been teaching a class called Theory of Knowledge for the past five or six years now, and one of the things that I’ve learned is that we all perceive the world differently. When we taste something, it is with our own unique sense perception; our senses of smell and taste, as well as our vision are all different. As a society (and perhaps on the whole) we tend to forget this. We believe that everyone must taste and smell food the same way that we do. So when I complain about something not tasting very good or having a bad mouthfeel, I realize that other people may not notice what I’m noticing. It kind of blows my mind, though.
I get a lot of teasing from my friends about it. They think it’s funny that I can taste the difference between artificial vanilla and the real thing. Or that I can tell whether someone is using vegetable fat or butter. Or even if the butter is regular Canadian 80% or European style 84%.
Maybe it’s like music.
If you have a song you really, really like by your favourite band and then you hear a muzak cover version of it in an elevator, you might be unhappy with this lesser version of something you really like. Some people, though, might not care about music enough to really process that the two versions of the song are different. Some people talk about the music they love with great passion, and they can explicate the differences between the various instruments and types of recordings, even going so far as to prefer one kind of an instrument over another.
Food is the same way. I think we understand this, up to a point. We expect people who have “discerning palates” to be wine connoisseurs or gourmet chefs. We just forget that there are lots more people than we realize who have the same sensory abilities.
So what does this mean for the Black Cat Bed and Breakfast?
It means that I will always have to make my own pancakes if I want good pancakes. It’s possible that before we move out of Toronto and up to the Bruce full time that a really good breakfast restaurant that makes pancakes from scratch will open up near us, but I’m not going to hold my breath. And I’m not going to trek all the way across the city to have someone else make pancakes for me – and charge me twice or more what they are worth because they are artisanal or some such crap.
And it means that if you come and stay with us at the Black Cat Bed and Breakfast, once we are up and running, you will always get freshly made fluffy pancakes for breakfast if that’s what’s on the menu that morning, with real maple syrup on the side.
And it’ll be worth it. Trust me.