About a year ago, over a series of weekends I was up too early anyway, I went on a buttermilk pancake-making bender. I tried, well, not all, but several of the recipes I always read about, the loftys and the fluffys and the best-evers. I used, in turn, cornstarch and vinegar and unseemly amounts of butter, I separated egg whites, I rested batters, and every single one of these pancakes was consumed by happy children but not a-one of them stayed as tall as they left the pan for more than a few minutes and I was gravely disappointed. It was very possibly user error; all pancakes were made before 8:30 a.m. on weekends, pre-coffee. Regardless, I tabled it and moved on.
Recently, in an attempt to extract myself from the 1008-page book I began in the fall and needed to accept I was probably never going to cross the halfway point of, I read Nora Ephron’s Heartburn. I honestly didn’t know the narrator was a food writer going into it but this made it even more delightful.* (I promise, I’m getting somewhere with this.) In some passage that I now cannot find, she essentially says that there are very few truly new recipes, that most things have been made well before, and this led me to send my kid to take down the 1896 Fannie Farmer cookbook with and look up her pancake recipe. “It’s not in here.” “Yes, it is. Look in the index.” [I think library science lessons are a small price to pay for pancakes, don’t you?] “I did, there are no pancakes.” But I knew there were pancakes in there and grabbed the book from him and hrm, he was totally right, there were no “pancakes,” but there were many recipes for “griddle cakes.”