February 25, 2005

Rant: Pancake Pandemonium

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This past Tuesday was my friend Laura’s birthday. As a surprise, some friends and I decided to make her breakfast. This would entail waking up at the ungodly hour of 7:30 a.m. however, because we are such good friends, we agreed to make this sacrifice for Laura’s otherwise uneventful 19th birthday.

Monday night, we bought the pancake mix at Bear Nasties and set our alarms to ring at the crack of dawn. After a few snooze hits, I dragged myself out of bed. After a shower, two frantic phone calls telling me to buy butter and other “breakfasty” foods and a stealth mission into my neighbor’s refrigerator to steal eggs, I was off to begin the birthday bonanza. Confident that everything was set, I went to her dorm, arriving on time to see our ingredients happily set out on the counter with one of my friends ready to cook. If only it were that easy.

Obstacle 1: Although I thought we had acquired all the materials we needed, we discovered that we did not have oil, an essential ingredient in making pancakes. Desperately, we searched the cabinets of the dorm’s communal kitchen. Thankfully, some wonderful person bought oil and stored it in the cabinet above the stove. What’s a tablespoon or two of oil between friends? Problem solved.

Obstacle 2: No measuring spoons or cups. This shortcoming made things a little trickier. We had to combine everything by eye, adding a little more milk if it were too thick, a little more powder if it were too thin. We stirred and added and stirred some more. As the stove started to smoke, we decided to move our frying pan to a different burner.

Obstacle 3: We had no plates on which to serve the pancakes, nor did we have silverware of any kind. In addition, we only had a small frying pan to use. After a couple of desperate random door-knockings, a few people woke up, arrived angrily at their doors and grudgingly shoved paper plates and a butter knife in our faces.

Obstacle 4: No spatula. Bet you didn’t think we could get any less prepared. Wrong. I bet you thought that a spatula was essential to pancake-making. Wrong again. Our ingenuity told us that a butter knife, shaped much like a spatula, has a handle and a flat surface. And it is long enough to slide under most of a pancake. So the butter knife it was. The important thing to remember when using a butter knife in place of a spatula is that the smaller the pancake is, the better. This is easier said than done, especially when you have three chefs working on a single, small pancake.

With one encouraging, “Make it bigger,” while another shovels in another spoonful of batter, life expectancy of a pancake was very low. And because of tight pancake-making space, one pancake at a time was as fast as our resources would allow. After the second pancake turned into more of a breakfast taco, the lesson was learned. Obstacle 5: As if nothing else could go wrong, Laura shows up. Our schedule organizer did not take into account her class, Eight O’clock Rock. As we are nearing the end of our pancake making, Laura walks down the hallway. What does one do in a situation like this? Reasonably, remain calm. What did we do? Panic. After we slammed the kitchen door in her face hyperventilating, I rushed out and brusquely pushed her back to her room and told her to go back to sleep, ignoring her questions as to what I was doing in her dorm. Then I rushed back to tend to the current pancake.

Finally the birthday breakfast was ready. The pancakes were piled into Tupperware and a plate of sliced oranges was arranged in concentric circles like an enormous sun. We took her feast to her, bursting in her room with an off tune rendition of “Happy Birthday.”

Then, sitting on her floor, we enjoyed the fruits of our labor as we listened to an eclectic birthday song medley from the Muppets and Marilyn Monroe. Who could ask for anything more?

Archived article by Becky Wolozin
Sun Staff Writer