Ah, mardi gras, it's that time of year when people like to party and rediscover the theatre of the absurd...
The third breakfast
A play with few words and even less action
The scene: a suburban kitchen.
A middle-aged man appears wearing lycra. He carefully makes himself a large bowl of porridge, three slices of wholesome brown toast and a café au lait. Then he puts a Beethoven piano concerto on the CD player and settles down to eat. His breakfast consumed, he dons a helmet, mounts an expensive-looking drop-handle-bar bicycle and rides out of the kitchen – almost colliding with a dishevelled middle-aged women in pyjamas. She grunts a greeting, as he disappears stage left.
Left alone in the kitchen, the woman makes herself two double espressos and drinks them as if chain smoking, becoming more alert with every sip. She switches off the music and replaces it with a radio drama of rural life. Then she proceeds to spend two hours doing the previous day’s prize crossword. By now it is lunchtime. She eats a large bowl of muesli and two slices of the brown wholesome toast.
The kitchen clock now shows 1.00 pm. A sullen teenage boy clad only in pants enters stage right. He yawns and then belches loudly. The man cycles back into the kitchen, considerably redder than before, almost colliding with the boy.
Man: I need something to nom on. Fast.
Boy (standing forlorn at bread bin): Someone’s eaten all the bread.
Woman: Look at this great clue. “Toast Schubert, Brahms and Liszt – cheers! (10)”.
Man: We could cook some pasta.
Boy: But I want breakfast.
Woman: The answer’s “bruschetta”.
Man: There’s no substitute for bread, is there?
Boy (in “mockney” accent): I bet you blahdy idiot fools ate all my pancake mixture from yesterday too.
All in unison: Of course, pancakes!
They rise rapidly out of their solitary dysfunctionality and bustle together, taking turns to fry pancakes for each other and eat them… with lashings of maple syrup (in honour of a distant relative). No words can be discerned. Just friendly murmurs, contented humming and noisy chomping.
From a recent production...
|You can't beat the classic lemon and sugar...|
|... unless it's nutella|
|... or blueberry jam and crème fraîche|
|... or small, fat and drenched in maple syrup.|
A recipe inspired by the play
Takes just 5 minutes in theory to get your first pancake. Then it's up to you whether to cook more or to eat as you go.
8 oz of flour
1 pint of milk
pinch of salt
tiny blob of butter to fry first pancake
non-stick pan essential
Chuck all the ingredients into a large jug.
Stir into an unappetising lumpy mixture.
Whizz it with a hand blender and you'll have some lovely smooth pancake mixture.
Heat the pan until very hot indeed. Chuck in the little blob of butter, which will smoke and sizzle if the pan is ready. Pour in a small quantity of batter and immediately tip the pan around so that it spreads. When the sides are starting to go brown and curl up slightly, it's ready to toss (if you're brave) or turn (if you're not). The second side will need even less cooking than the first.
Yes, it's as simple as that. Well, maybe not quite. Some people say you should leave the batter to rest, but I've never really noticed the difference. Others add melted butter to the batter (why bother?) or use different proportions (why not?). Some like 'em fat (American-style). Some like 'em thin (French style). Some like 'em in between (British style). The only absolute is that the first one is always the hardest and often goes wrong (think scrambled omelette). Just make sure the pan is hot, experiment and enjoy. Once you get proficient, you'll even be able to write an absurd play in pancake mixture (very slowly) and – for added absurdity – eat it as you go.
Joke of the day
What did the wooden spoon say to the flour, egg and milk?
I’m going to beat the crêpe out of you.
Rhetorical question of the day?
Why does mardi gras sound so much more fun than Shrove Tuesday?
Tip of the day
Pancakes really can be a life-saver. When you've got almost nothing in the fridge, you can knock up a two-course meal in just five minutes: cheese followed by nutella... all you need is red wine to make a very bad migraine. Oh, and apparently a handful of snow in the batter is magic. But maybe not if it's gathered from city streets.