Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Washington Post Features

February 7, 2013

Why not pancakes for dinner?

WASHINGTON — Tuesday was IHOP's National Pancake Day. Time magazine celebrated the event with a list of Hollywood's 10 best breakfast scenes. Why do most Americans eat pancakes only for breakfast?

Because bread is better. Pancakes used to be anytime food in the United States. Around the time of the American Revolution, it was traditional to serve pancakes during dinner - the largest meal of the day, consumed in the early afternoon. But those pancakes were thin, like the French crepe or the Swedish pannkakor, which are still enjoyed at all times of day. In the 1780s, American cooks started adding the chemical leavener pearl ash to their pancake batter. The rising agent transformed the delicate, crepe-like rounds suitable for sopping up the remnants of a meat stew into thick, fluffy, satiating fare, perfect for a filling breakfast. Griddle cakes also had the benefit of speed. While yeast required hours to leaven a dough, chemical agents could produce a thick cake in minutes, enabling frontier cooks to have a bread equivalent on the table before morning farm work began. Scattered advocates notwithstanding, the thicker pancakes never caught on as dinner food. Cooks had hours to prepare the day's showpiece meal, and colonials preferred yeast leavening to the off-flavor that chemical leavening produced. Even today, people who aren't used to baking soda say that chemically leavened baked goods have a soapy taste.

Note that Tuesday was National Pancake Day, not International Pancake Day, even though it's the brainchild of the International House of Pancakes. That's not an oversight. On the day before Lent begins - when New Orleans erupts for Mardi Gras - many British Commonwealth countries celebrate Shrove Tuesday, also known as pancake day. The tradition helps households use up perishable and Lenten-unfriendly foods like milk and eggs. Hold that "happy pancake day" call to your British friends until next week.

 

1
Text Only
Washington Post Features
  • Search teams will send unmanned sub to look for missing Malaysian airliner

    Teams searching for a missing Malaysian airliner are planning for the first time to send an unmanned submarine into the depths of the Indian Ocean to look for wreckage, an Australian official leading the multi-nation search said Monday.

    April 15, 2014

  • DayCareCosts.jpg Day care's cost can exceed college tuition in some states

    Most parents will deal with an even larger kid-related expense long before college, and it's a cost that very few of them are as prepared for: day care.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • 10 tips for surviving a severe allergy season

    My colleague Brady Dennis reported recently that the arrival of warmer weather will soon unleash a pollen tsunami in parts of the country where the winter has been especially long and cold. Here are some survival tips from Clifford W. Bassett, an allergy specialist and assistant clinical professor of medicine at the New York University School of Medicine.

    April 9, 2014

  • news_twitter.jpg Travelers fly on Air Twitter

    The enlightened age of social media has dawned over the airline industry, casting shadows over telephone call centers and on-site agents. Facebook and Twitter are racking up the friends and followers while the hold music plays on.

    April 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • To get quality care, it helps to be the right kind of patient

    I am a family physician. Sometimes I must step out of the comfort of my clinical role and into that of patient or family caregiver. Generally, these trips to the other side of the exam table inspire a fair amount of anxiety.

    April 8, 2014

  • Fast, cheap test can help save lives of many babies

    As Easley did more research into her daughter's death, she learned that a pilot program had started just months earlier at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring, Md. (Easley had delivered at a different hospital in the Washington area.) The program's goal was to screen every newborn with a simple pulse oximeter test that can help detect heart problems such as Veronica's, allowing doctors to respond.

    April 8, 2014

  • At many leading schools, football fails to make cut

    To my astonishment, 67 of the top 100 schools, ranked by participation in college-level tests, said they do not field a team, denoting a shift in American high school culture, at least in those schools that challenge their students most.

    April 7, 2014

  • pizza-300x216.jpg VIDEO: Pepperoni, extra cheese and...pot?

    A Vancouver pizzeria has added a unique item to its menu: Customers with a prescription can order pizza infused with marijuana.

    April 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • For April Fools' Day: A sampling of scientific hoaxes over the centuries

    Speaking of jokes, in honor of April Fools' Day, Discovery magazine's Jonathon Keats briefly recounts some scientific hoaxes perpetrated over the centuries. His catalogue of cons includes "Aristotle's Masterpiece," a 17th-century mishmash of bogus medical texts and sex advice that remained in publication for 200 years.

    April 1, 2014

  • touch.jpg Divorce is on the rise, and it's the baby boomers' fault

    A new paper from demographers at the University of Minnesota found that the age-standardized divorce rate has actually risen by an astonishing 40 percent since 1980.

    March 28, 2014 1 Photo