National Pancake Day is around the corner (March 12), though due to its proximity to Purim, I worry it could get overlooked. So, to give this holiday the respect it deserves, I thought I would share the story of my first pancake-making experience. For most, making pancakes is an acquired skill—not only is it a matter of when to flip the pancakes but also how to balance the delicate flip that will determine the pancake’s fate. So, it’s not surprising that many first pancakes come out slightly overcooked on one side, while simultaneously undercooked on the other. I don’t mean to brag, but my first pancakes had identical sides—both completely burnt.
My mother sometimes complains that she has no help around the house and that she has to do everything herself. Yet, when one of us kids offers to assist in the kitchen, it’s always a firm “NO.” In fact, my mother says that we can help “by staying out of her way.” I never liked this answer, always feeling like I was missing out on a crucial coming of age moment in my life: learning how to use a stove.
One weekend, I decided to have a sleepover at my cousins’ house. My aunt is not the Gordon Ramsay that my mother is, and since she claims to be an awful cook, she delegates most of the Sabbath food preparation to her children. I decided that this lax cooking environment was the perfect way for me to get into the kitchen. After I cook my delicious dish without fail, my mother will surely change her mind about my inept cooking abilities, I thought to myself.
Well, I guess there is a reason why my mother doesn’t let me into the kitchen after all.
After contemplating what to cook for breakfast, my cousins and I decided on good old-fashioned pancakes. It started out simple enough: search through the endless recipes that the internet has to offer (and settle for nothing less than a five-star dish), spray the pan, pour the mix and wait to flip.
Since we were bored of waiting by the stove, my cousins and I decided to grab something to do from the next room, while the pancake was developing a golden crisp layer—big mistake. As I was discussing something of great importance, I’m sure, I began to smell something awful. Before I could register what the smell was, the fire alarm outed the culprit: our pancakes.
After running to turn off the stove, we heard the phone ring. The alarm company was on the line. My cousins quickly ran to call their mom on their cell phone and left me in charge of talking to the alarm company.
When setting up their alarm system, my aunt and uncle answered security questions that would be used to determine whether the alarm, if set off, was set off by an intruder. While I held the home phone to my right ear, my aunt was talking to my left ear, while also listening to the conversation. Soon the man from the alarm company asked for my name. “Well, actually, I don’t live he-” “GABRIELLA KATZ. SAY YOU’RE GABRIELLA KATZ,” my aunt screamed from the other phone.
After all the chaos, we managed to save the pancakes. They weren’t too bad, they tasted like burnt flatbread. Needless to say, I never made pancakes again. When my mom found out about this, she was only grateful that this learning experience took place at someone else’s stove.
Note: Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Chani Shulman is a junior at Manhattan High School for Girls. She is a Staff Writer for Fresh Ink for Teens.