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.
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.
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.
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.
What: soft, cake style pastries served for breakfast in the US, but served as part of meal worldwide
JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS:
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.
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 Sconosciuto, Snugg LePup, chotda, Allen, Dvortygirl