Thursday, February 10, 2011


To make good pancakes requires a bit of ADD. You have to shuffle between pouring, flipping, and stacking, all within a matter of minutes. There's just enough time in between each action to get distracted by something else (such as writing a blog.) And there is really too much time in between to just sit there and watch them cook, it's too mind-numbing. I've been told before that you have to "watch them like a hawk", but I've never been able to subscribe to that level of dedication with my pancake cooking.

I've never played football before, but I like to think that pancake chef shares some very small similarities with the quarterback position. One of the most difficult challenges a quarterback faces is an awareness of how long the play has been alive. Some QB's try to keep the play alive at all costs, and as the play goes on, the risk of a sack increases while the chance of a gain decreases. The more savvy qb's have an internal clock that ticks off the seconds and if they have nobody to throw to and nowhere to run, they throw the ball away instead of risking the sack or forcing an off-balance pass. The more football you watch, the more you see this difference, it's one of the aspects that makes a QB great rather than just good.

In pancake cooking, I've come to take it as a personal challenge to fine tune my own internal clock. Every 30-40 seconds, the mental timer in my head is supposed to go "bing, your pancakes are ready" so that I return from sipping my coffee, eating my earlier batch of cakes, or talking to someone else in the room and flip or stack the old and pour the new. Sometimes I ignore my internal clock and I get slightly burned pancakes, that is the equivalent of a sack in the sport of pancake cooking. Sometimes I show up at the pan earlier than I need to be and/or flip a not-fully-cooked pancake and realize I jumped the gun. It's a dance, a delicate balance of precision mixed with ambivalence which drives the process.

The best part is that it really doesn't matter at all as long as some of the pancakes are edible.

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