I have loved pancakes for many years. Although I make no great claims regarding my epicurean knowledge or experiences, I like to think I’m a bit of a connoisseur when it comes to pancakes. I’ve had all types of strange and exotic mixes, with sides too varied and eccentric to list here. During my previous working career, I travelled a lot, and would eke out pancake specialists in every new city to sample the local gastronomic efforts. To ensure pancakes remained special, I made sure I limited the number of times per month I had them. But when I did have them, I tended to take the “all or nothing/Geronimo” approach, which would leave me a sweating, sugar-infused, hyperglycaemic beach ball by evening’s end.
Today, I met with a mate for lunch, and I ordered pancakes for the first time in several years. My financial status as a student precludes me from eating out that often (and when I do it’s generally takeout or bits of cardboard from the local bin). So, today was a treat.
They arrived, an ebulliently fluffy triple-stack, adorned with golden reams of banana and radiant and succulent strawberries, sickly-sweet ice cream and lashings of golden maple syrup. Without a second to lose, I buried myself headfirst in them. They were delightful – sweetly incriminating, melting in my mouth and exploding in my mind like a closeted sugar-gasm. For a moment, I was in pancake heaven, complete with angelic chorus and shining sunbeam illumination.
Within a few minutes, though, I found the whole experience turning sour. My stomach was churning, and I found the taste overly sweet and distasteful. I sombrely left half of the last pancake, claiming I was full.
What had happened? Why was I rejecting what had previously been my all-time favourite delicacy? The ingredients were fine. The pancakes were cooked to perfection – just the right consistency, depth and taste. The maple syrup was real and there was lots of it. The fruit was fresh. Everything was right. So, what was wrong?
It wasn’t until I was walking back to the car, that I realised. For the past few years I had been living an overly healthy life (just check out my training blog posts, for evidence of that). I had been steering clear of fatty and sugary foods and treating my body like a church (literally). I realised that during that time I’d gone off pancakes.
WHAT?! GONE OFF PANCAKES!!!! How could God be so cruel as to deny the one secret, sugary need that I had left in my life?! As my post-modern culinary world collapsed around me (yes, at that moment, I had forgotten that 50% of the world was starving and living in poverty), I fell to my knees with my hands raised to the heavens. “Father, why have you forsaken me?” I quoted (although in hindsight, the context was probably somewhat sacrilegious). Pedestrians gave wide berth to the kneeling, wild-eyed monk with the smeared syrup and light frosting of castor sugar adorning his t-shirt.
I felt sick for the rest of the day, and it served me right.
No, the food wasn’t off. I hadn’t picked up a bad case of streptococcus (although, that may have been preferable. Then I would still be able to eat pancakes). My body just wasn’t used to that concentration of fat and sugar in one hit. I had left the amazingly fun pancake zone and entered the bleary and subdued health zone (not a place I prefer to be, but probably better for me in the long run).
And so, humbled by the experience, I resigned myself to a carrot, vegies and some quiche for dinner. Perhaps one day I’ll have pancakes again. Maybe a little less, next time…