In food writing there is a lot of riffing on “you are what you eat”. I remember an article in which the author claimed, tell me what fat you use in your pastry, i.e., butter, lard, and I’ll tell you who you are. I would like to join the chorus with “by their pancake shall you know them”.
I love pancakes. I love flapjacks, crepes, fritters and griddle cakes. I love tortillas, chapatis, Dutch babies, and moo shu pancakes. The only pancake I’ve ever met that I didn’t like is the Ethiopian injera. This is probably just because I haven’t met the right Ethiopian grandmother yet. My point is, virtually every culture has a flat cake used to transport other goodies from your plate to your face.
My most recent foray into things flat and fabulous were corn fritters from the July/August issue of Cook’s Illustrated. They intended them as a side, but I turned them into a main dish by broiling some cheddar atop the finished fritters and garnishing with salsa and sour cream. Pantabulous.
I recently acquired a new bike. This is beautiful countryside and one of my happiest vacations was a cycling trip in Vermont, but I haven’t ridden as much as I intended. Why? Because Reader, I could get lost in a circle. I might, indeed, end up back in Vermont without quite knowing how.
If I did, and I could find it, and it weren't sadly closed, I’d return to The Churchill Inn in Brandon for a plate of their cottage cheese pancakes. These are wonderfully paradoxical pancakes, simultaneously rich and light:
1 cup cottage cheese
1/2 cup flour
3 oz unsalted butter, melted
Whir the cottage cheese, eggs and flour in a blender or food processor. Add the melted butter and blend to combine. Batter should be slightly lumpy. Pre-heat a pan and cook pancakes about 2 minutes each side, using 1/4 of batter per pancake. You’re welcome.
Before There Was World Music
John Szwed’s The Man Who Recorded the World is a biography of Alan Lomax. A man with Dickens’ energy, Darwin’s global and historic vision, and a man you wouldn’t want to date your sister.
Lomax began collecting songs with his father, John Lomax, a man of comparable protean energy. He became a scientist of song. He wasn’t a color inside the lines kind of guy, particularly the color bar, which academia and the FBI found suspicious. As he evolved an entirely new discipline he worked for social justice, which he believed could be fostered through music. Chaotic in his personal life, in his work he was both Herculean and meticulous.
He struggled continually for funding, and though you find yourself wishing he could have had more money for research, it is equally frustrating to imagine what he could have done if he’d had access to today’s computing and networking power. This was a man born to mine big data.
Alex Ross is a spiritual heir of Alan Lomax. His The Rest is Noise, Listening to the Twentieth Century has a corresponding website where you can listen to samples of the music he is writing about. In the Library of Books That Should Have Been, Alan Lomax would have produced a multi-volume Encyclopedia of Music to rock the world.