Being as it was Shrove Tuesday yesterday I thought I would blog about pancakes. To most they’re just pancakes. A sweet, sticky, fluffy disc of love. I love em! Actually, I really fucking love em! I love everything about them. The high they give you. The sheer delight it brings those around me eating them. Their taste. Their texture. To other people they’re a sweet treat, dessert or a special breakfast. But, to me they are the ultimate symbol of Christmas Day. Weird? Fuck yes, I know, but I love it.
Christmas Day as a kid was always spent in two places. Usually a hot lunch with Mum’s side at the G Marts (AKA Granny Mart) in Rainbow, followed by a more relaxed tea at Gran and Pop’s (Dad’s parents) in Hopetoun. Christmas Day was always stinking fucking hot in the Mallee. Forty degrees Celsius or higher was not unusual. It was really fucking hot… all the time. I loved it, almost as much as I loved Christmas Day PANCAKES!
We would rock up to Gran and Pop’s and roll out of the car full as two boots after lunch from the G Marts house. Dad would crack open a long neck or dozen, with his brothers and Mum would slink off for a game of Scrabble or a coffee with all the wives, my Aunts… “The Inlaws!!” They’re a whole blog on their own and so is lunch at the G Marts! The day would last forever. Presents, heat, cousins, flies, hanging out over at the Primary School, fights, the sun, playing chacey and family photos. Finally the sun would drop behind the horizon. There is no where on this Earth with a sunset like a sunset in the Mallee. The pink, purple, fushia, orange and red delight, sprayed across the horizon. Its really a sight to behold and I miss it. The heat would subside, the cool drifted in leaving us all ready to eat again. Aunts, Uncles and over a dozen cousins rallied around the yard ready for the next feed.
Half a 40 gallon drum cut down the middle, from top to bottom served as our BBQ. The drum was laid down, open side up on a metal frame, and a huge piece of flat metal covered the opening to create the cooking plate. After a huge feed of left over roast, salads and freshly cooked chops, snags and potato chips, the BBQ was cleaned down and prepped for the main event. Like we needed to eat more yeah? Guts so distended and full you felt crook, we all sat on the cooch grass and waited…
In a bowl so huge you could bath a small infant in, Gran would mix the biggest batch of pancake batter you have EVER seen. She would make it before the BBQ was cooked, because the secret to a fucking great pancake, is letting the batter sit. For an hour or more! A plastic bag of lemons were quartered and a bowl of white sugar with a half dozen teaspoons decorated the wooden trestle table.
It was like poetry, just rolling off the tongue. About 30 pancakes at a time were cooked. Big, round, steaming hot, paper thin discs of heaven. It was really something. All us kids would line up, dancing on our tip toes waiting for our turn. Plate… Pancake… Fresh lemon juice drizzled all over and COPIOUS AMOUNTS OF SUGAR sprinkled on top. The warm sticky juice would run down your fingers, down your arms and dripped off your elbows. Pancake after pancake, we would all gorge ourselves stupid. We loved it. Our faces would glisten with the sweet sugary juice. Aunts would do the rounds with a cool, wet face cloth, cleaning hands, arms and faces. Those pancakes were the best it got.
I’m not sure why it stopped or even when exactly. Perhaps Grans diabetes had something to do with it, or it was because most of the family wasn’t coming home to Hopetoun for Christmas anymore. What ever the reason I wish it didn’t end and my kids got to experience it. Perhaps I should revisit the tradition of Christmas Day Pancakes. There wasn’t much that was normal for me most of the time while growing up, so why should Christmas be any different? The pancakes weren’t normal, but I didn’t give a shit! I’m happy for that difference. That difference had a purpose, and that purpose was to create a beautiful memory for those of us who remember it. When dollars were tough, interest rates high, kids missed out, but this one thing on Christmas Day made it all better. Well, for me it did.
Make sure you turn the teapot twice clockwise and once anticlockwise!