Stirring up memories
Don't fool around with pancakes
March 28, 2007
I always loved the first day of April—and I never minded being fooled, although it looks like I'd have learned to expect the salt in the oatmeal since it happened every year. My dad was quite a jokester, and he was consistent.
Mrs. Colley, our next door neighbor, knew when she confronted an empty front porch in response to a doorbell that two little girls were hiding behind the spirea trying hard to suppress their giggles.
"Oh!" she'd exclaim, "I was so hoping it was the Nordyke girls. Here I've just pulled chocolate chip cookies out of the oven, and there is no one to eat them." "April Fool!" We jumped out from behind the bushes and ran onto the porch.
"Oh, my dears! You had me completely fooled." We were as predictable as our dad.
When my oldest son was 6 or so, I decided it was time to share the springtime fun with him. Chris and I spent the afternoon of March 31 safety pinning together all of his father's socks heel to toe. When we heard Bob stepping out of the shower we popped under the covers to watch the fun as sock after sock serpentined from the drawer.
"April Fool!" We jumped out of the down comforter.
"I couldn't figure it out!" Bob shook his head.
Why wasn't I surprised when I poured blue milk onto a giggling boy's cereal? No wonder his dad offered to help with breakfast! Such fun. We spent the morning thinking of other tricks.
Chris pulled the doorbell-and-hide trick on our (fully-warned) next door neighbors. Some traditions should not be allowed to fade.
At lunch time 2-year-old Patrick looked mildly confused when a tasty bowl of dog food appeared on his high chair tray. We gave him his usual peanut butter and jelly on white bread before he gobbled down more than a mouthful.
We decided not to play a trick on Baby Katy, she wouldn't be a year old for another week, but Chris thought of one that she could play. We put her dress on backwards when we headed out for the A&P. We got lots of smiles, especially from the man in the vegetable department.
"What shall we have for supper?" I asked Chris knowing what the answer would be since it was always the same.
"For supper? Pancakes are for breakfast."
"Pancakes! Pancakes for supper! Pretty please—with sugar on it."
"How about syrup?" We headed for the aisle.
On the way home Chris lamented from the backseat that he'd been playing tricks on people all day long, but not one single person had played a trick on him. It just wasn't fair. I commented that the day wasn't over.
Pancakes were a production at our house. The syrup had to be maple and had to be warm, the butter just this side of gooey. I cooked up one plate at a time. First little bitty quarter-sized ones for Baby Katy, and then nice silver-dollar sized ones for Patrick.
"I can't wait!" Bob called from the table. So I made some great big Daddy-sized ones and sent Chris to the table carefully balancing the plate.
"I think I'll make mine next and finish up the batter," I said as I emptied the bowl onto the griddle.
"But what about me?" Chris asked.
"Oh, Baby! I'm sorry. I've used up all the batter! Tell you what I'll do; I'll make you some scrambled eggs!"
"It's not fair!" He wailed louder, the tears streaming down his face.
"April Fool!" I cried.
"April Fool!" Bob and Patrick chorused. We all laughed. Even Baby Katy.
I reached in the refrigerator and pulled out a bowl of batter.
"Look! There's plenty left. I'll make yours as big as Daddy's."
Chris continued to wail.
"Get another plate, he can have one of mine." Bob called over the din. Chris continued to wail.
Soon he was sitting behind a stack of not four but five pancakes, and I didn't say a word about the flood of syrup he poured over them.
"It was a joke," I explained. "An April Fool trick like the socks and Katy's dress."
"It wasn't funny." Chris speared a chunk of pancake.
"I thought the blue milk was funny."
"It was. But you should never fool around about pancakes."
He was right. I never pulled that trick again.
Over 40 now, Chris still doesn't think it was funny. The last time I asked him about it he said, "You should never joke about pancakes."
Any Day Pancakes
one cup flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
one egg, beaten
1 scant cup milk
1 teaspoon melted butter
Mix together the flour and baking powder. Add the egg and then gradually add enough milk to make a smooth batter. Stir in the melted butter. Cook in a hot griddle or frying pan, flip pancakes when they bubble, to brown the other side.
Serve with maple syrup and lots more butter.
Or just grab up a package of frozen pancakes (but don't skimp on the good syrup). The most important part of any meal is being happy with your family—especially on April 1.
Post-script: A version of this column appeared in the March 2007 Story Circle Journal under another title.
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Trilla Pando is a member of the Southern Foodways Alliance & the Story Circle Network