“Living the good life is like flipping a pancake, if you hesitate it splatters all over the place.”
New is not always better. Sometimes ‘same good old’ is what we really want. My ‘same good old’ is pancakes. Forget about North American pancake towers or the Dutchies eating them all day long – it’s all trivial compared with traditional Russian pancakes. I might be leaning a little bit out of the window, but just hang on.
Russian Street Food? – Pancakes
Did you really think that Singapore was the only street food nation? When my husband Andries, who grew up on Dutch pancakes, first visited Russia, he was mesmerised by the fact that kebabs were less popular of a street food than pancakes, which you can buy from small street stalls.
During winter you would go for hot pancakes with mushrooms or beef, while during summer you would choose a cold refreshing topping, like sour cream or whipped cream. Singapore might have all kinds of street food, but we have pancakes. How about that for your taste of tradition?
“When it comes to ‘connecting people’ I don’t think of Nokia, but of pancakes.”
Celebrating Pancakes like it’s New Year
Saluting a farewell to winter, Russians celebrate a festival called Maslenitsa somewhere in February-March. The name of the Maslenitsa festival refers literally to butter in Russian and goes back to the tradition of baking pancakes (blini in Russian). Our own pancake festival if you will.
Unlike North Americans, who drown their food in an ocean of syrup, Russians eat their pancakes with red caviar, sour cream and dill, salmon, mushrooms and cheese, apple and raspberry jam – the list goes on.
You never eat pancakes alone. It’s something to share – either in making or eating. When it comes to ‘connecting people’ I don’t think of Nokia, but of pancakes.
“After baking 150 pancakes, I eventually stopped counting.”
Pancake – Madness – Solution
Once we were throwing a ‘Bubbly’ pre-Christmas party to catch up with all our friends before the holidays. The idea seemed brilliant in it’s simplicity and practicality. We would bake a lot of pancakes, get some champagne and offer our 60 friends to bring the toppings they like: from Norwegian salmon and caviar to curry and kaya jam.
After baking 150 pancakes, I eventually stopped counting. Everyone loved it, except me, as I became most stressed out about something I loved so dearly. I was trying to combine too many things: being a good cook, being a good host, being a good companion for my guests and actually having fun.
My reconciliation with pancakes came when I discovered chef Rinat Valiev – after all you can’t skip you taste of tradition. Needless to say the menu that got my attention was called Russian Crepes and Sweets. He took on the role of the chef at the next Christmas party and I became just a guest in my own house. I finally could savour on pancakes, brag about pancakes as street food in Russian, while glasses with champagne were refilled. I even converted my North American, Dutch and Singaporean friends. What’s your taste of tradition?