Been & Going

[Citizen Filter] Is It The Apocalypse Yet, Because It’s Too Hot And There’d Better Be A Good Reason For It

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It’s been a hot summer here in lil ol’ Los Angeles, and like many Angelenos, I live in a crappy shoebox without air conditioning and surrounded by concrete that does nothing but soak up and reflect back the horrible, horrible heat.

For a couple of my summers here, one of my jobs was at a small business that didn’t have a/c, so the temperature relative to home was much hotter and made my place seem livable. The last summer I was there, we got a/c, and all hell broke loose. Last year I was unemployed and living on frozen slices of watermelon and not wearing pants. This year, employment means pants and pants mean uncomfortable transfer heat, not to mention laundry and assorted household chores done during the horrendous peaks of midday sun exposure. (At least I live on the Westside and not in Silverlake–it’s a well-known fact that hipsters raise temperatures by an average of 7.5 degrees Fahrenheit, because they are attracting the fires of hell.)

Her t-shirt is wrong. Hell is all around us now, if all around us refers to east of the 101, north of downtown and west of the ‘denas.

There a number of transplants to this area, like myself, who can’t cope with temperatures above 75F, and also like myself, refuse to buy a window a/c unit because the second you buy it the temperature will drop to 35 and we’ll all look like idiots, and you can’t return things to craigslist. I tried. It gets weird, and everyone you email ends up being a sex worker. Which is fine, but they don’t take returns either. Ba da da da dum! I’ll be here all week, try the veal.

So we cope, and we pray for rain because a) megadrout that will kill us all but also does not prevent bottled water companies from tapping into public reservoirs, and b) sweet, sweet relief for the thirty seconds it takes the rain to evaporate from the sidewalk. We also do stupid things, like make pancakes. “But why is that stupid, Sarah?” you ask, hungry for pancakes and angry that this is the internet and they are not available. Why, indeed, angry hungry stranger. Why indeed.

Like many Angelenos, my apartment came with a stove-oven combo. It is a gas stove-oven combo. So far, so good. Like many Angelenos, my stove-oven is white enameled metal with zero insulation and an overactive pilot light that makes the kitchen uncomfortably warm even when it’s off. When it’s on, it’s like you’ve got a hipster in the kitchen. So this morning, I’m sending off my friend after a lovely visit, and thinking, “hey, homemade pancakes are a wonderful way to end a trip and also walking is hard”. I make the batter, I heat up the pan (“oh, god, it’s so hot in here already”) and I start making my usual 2” pancakes. I like to stack them, like a tower of Babel, so high as to be an affront to the will of any god paying attention to breakfast food. By the time those little pancakes are done, I’m sweating bourbon from last Friday into them and I hate everything in the whole world, including my friend and breakfast. But I’m adaptable, I cope. “Why, self,” I say, “you just need to make bigger pancakes! that mean you can turn the stove off sooner and eat your own pancakes, too!”

This is how you make an enemy of the lord. A sweet, sweet enemy.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. It’s not breakfast if you’re not building that pancake tower and offending the good and might lord with the lightning bolts and such, but this is Los Angeles. We get confused when we get nice things.

To this end, I developed a theory right now to fill out the word count of this piece and also explain traffic. You’d think after several decades of polluting our own corner of the world and torturing ourselves for a million hours a day in awful awful commutes, our rich and powerful corporate overlords would have come up with some sort of workable transit system, or hovercars. Traffic discriminates against no man, and if polled, would actually tell you it hates rich people. (Worst traffic in the city: West Side. Highest concentration of wealth in the city: West Side. Coincidence? Absolutely not, poor people have to get to and from there to provides services for the rich people.) But the reality is that we all remember or currently live in places that have no climate control, and so we prefer to run to our shiny shiny cars (how do they stay so shiny in a megadrought and none of us are washing our cars? OH WAIT) and bask in the unlimited whoosh of cool air that wastes all the gas we should be using on idling on the 110 as motorcyclists zoom by at terrifying speeds. Why would we want to speed up? I don’t want to be inside my house, or worse, outside my house on days like today. I also don’t want to be at work because I’m an American and work is for foreigners stealing our jobs. The car is our space to be free.

This a real picture of a reservoir in California. Seriously, stop washing your car.

This theory is also supported by the number of people who drive to the beach on holiday weekends and don’t leave the house until noon. How else can you spend $20 on parking, walk across miles of blistering sand to a crowded coastal spot, fight off a herd of mutant seagull-lions for blanket space, and then swim in waters guaranteed to give you some sort of flesh-eating disease? It’s absolutely worth living in the least affordable city in the country just for that privilege.

I would finish this off with a witty timeline, but it’s 8pm and I’m about two seconds away from mopping up the brains that have melted out of my ears, so I’ll leave you with this:

Winter is coming, and someday we’ll see a 60 degree day and complain about how cold it is. Take heart, and go drive around aimlessly somewhere.


[Kicking Back with Jersey Joe] Everybody Loves Pancakes!

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Growing up, my grandmother would cook me her own spin on pancakes called a palacinki.  Instead of a traditional pancake, it was rolled up on a plate, served in groups of three, and filled with jelly, then topped with syrup, and sometimes chocolate.  She told me that she learned to make that from her mother, who from Slovakia.  (Yes, I know they’re basically a crepe.)  When I was home a few months ago, she again whipped up her mouthwatering treat and it had me wondering: what are pancakes like in other countries around the world?


A palacinke, or palacinki (there are numerous spellings) for this succulent treat!

Pancakes, the delicious fluffy treats we all scarf down by the millions at breakfast.  They are a cheap breakfast to cook in the home and a big money maker for restaurants.  Made with just a few ingredients, they can start your day off right and their history dates back to before Christ.


American Pancakes are flat and thin round cakes prepared in a pan or on a griddle.  We generally eat them for breakfast with fruit, syrup, or butter.  Here pancakes usually use a baking agent to make them rise, but many other countries eat them flat as a crepe.  The basic shape and serving of pancakes varies around the world.


Buttermilk pancakes.

Classic buttermilk pancakes.

The history of pancakes dates back to a previous millennium.  The Ancient Greeks first served pancakes as early as 5 BC and were made the same basic way as they are prepared today with wheat flour, olive oil, honey, and curdled milk.


But, some places really have a unique spin on the recipe.




In Africa, most countries eat the pancake as more of a flatbread with a meal.  Here, they do not use yeast, which keeps the pastry as flat as possible.  It is also served with most meals as side bread.  In Ethiopia, pancakes serve as both a plate and a side dish.  Known as injera, the pancake holds a stew (or salad where they don’t eat meat) and soaks up the juices.  The meal does not end until the entire injera is consumed.


In China, pancakes are made with dough, instead of a batter.  In Japan, they are made from egg, flour, and cabbage.


In India, pancakes are made without any rising agents and are prepared either sweet or salty.  The salty version is served with cottage cheese.


In Indonesia, they are made with rice flour and coconut milk.


In Malaysia and Singapore, you can find pancakes that include sweet corn!


In Denmark, pancakes are served in the shape of a sphere.  In parts of Germany, they are also served with soup.


Icelandic pancakes

Icelandic pancakes

Iceland has an unusual way of preparing pancakes.  There, they try to get the cake as thin as possible and will use the same pan over and over to prepare them.  It is strongly encouraged not to wash the pan.  They will also use pancakes as bread for a sandwich.


In Spain, the ingredients for a pancake can include flour, milk, eggs, or blood!  Yes, blood!  The blood style is served during a pig slaughter feast.


Pancake restaurants in the Netherlands are extremely popular.  They will serve giant pancakes with bacon, sausage, ham, cheese, or apples baked inside.


In many countries, pancakes even have their own day!  Shrove Tuesday, is the day before Lent where the faithful can gorge themselves all they want and to use up the fatty ingredients.  The celebration is similar to Mardi Gras and is celebrated in Canada, United Kingdom, Ireland, New Zealand, and Australia.  It is also known as Pancake Tuesday or Fat Tuesday… doesn’t the last one sound familiar?

An International House of Pancakes restaurant, in S. Portland, Maine as pictured in the 1970's.

An International House of Pancakes restaurant, in S. Portland, Maine as pictured in the 1970’s.

Pancake runs are also part of the Shove Tuesday celebrations.  Usually held for charity, most of these runs feature women who must toss their pancake in the air and catch it in a frying pan as they run.  This all started back in 1444, when an English housewife heard the bells of her local church and she ran out of the house with her apron on and a frying pan still cooking the pancake to get to the service.


Cooking up pancakes on a stove top griddle.

Cooking up pancakes on a stove top griddle.

THE 411


Name: pancakes


What: soft, cake style pastries served for breakfast in the US, but served as part of meal worldwide




I absolutely love pancakes.  Besides, my grandmother’s awesome home cooking, Café Metro, a restaurant on New York’s Upper East Side, has some of the best.  Their recipe uses a hint of lemon flavoring in the batter.


Pancakes with a hint of lemon, served with bacon at Cafe Metro, New York City.

Pancakes with a hint of lemon, served with bacon at Cafe Metro, New York City.

Another favorite is Hash House a Go Go, with three locations in Las Vegas.  Their pancakes are massive and have a great flavor to cure your Vegas hangover.  It’s almost impossible to finish a serving in one sitting.  If I were local, I would probably take mine in a To Go box, but being a tourist, I don’t think they would sit well in a hotel room.  Hash House a Go Go has a location in The Quad hotel and casino on the Strip and another in The Plaza hotel and casino downtown on Fremont Street.  They also have restaurants in San Diego, Chicago, Orlando, suburban Las Vegas, Reno, and at the Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut.


Image credits – Martin, Davide e Paola, Addison Berry, Caleb SconosciutoSnugg LePup, chotda, Allen, Dvortygirl