Thursday, July 24, 2008

pancakes for the skinniest skinnies

It has come to my attention that some of you could eat a plate of pancakes with no harm to your adorably scrawny physique, so I am taking the unprecedented step of publishing one pancake recipe after another.

Last week we saw Jeremy Jay at Mercury Lounge, and then on Tuesday we saw Jarvis Cocker at Terminal 5. They were each in their own way "as charming as the top of an apple-tree above a wall,"1 but the sometimes-Mr. Tiny Banquet, who went with me to both shows, and who is himself tall and skinny, couldn't help noticing the similarities in body type. We know Jeremy Jay eats something once in a while because he said he dug John's Pizza earlier that day, but I suspect that Jarvis — a generous soul who did two encores, and who gave his glass of wine to an audience member who insisted it was her birthday — might actually be giving away the small amount of food that ends up on his plate.

Jarvis Cocker at Terminal 5

Jeremy Jay, above left; Jarvis Cocker, above. This might seriously be the last time I have to apologize for crap iPhone photos because my real camera is in for repairs RIGHT THIS MINUTE.

Maybe Jarvis is just shake, shake, shaking the weight off. It's difficult to find a video of him dancing with decent sound and image quality and he's pretty subdued in the one below, so you'll just have to take my word that he's a hard-working man. Sheffield's own James Brown, in a way.

Fat Children.

The next concert we're planning to go to is a performance of Scott Walker's recent work at the Barbican this November. Scott is not going to be on stage because he's a reclusive genius, but if he were, he'd be tall and skinny too. He's gained a couple pounds since his Walker Brothers days but not many, and surely he could put away a plate of pancakes with butter and syrup without busting the seams on his pants.

scott walker tv album cover

I am not in the habit of flying across the pond for a single show but I can't explain what happened; I read about this event when it was announced and the next thing I knew I was looking at a seating chart. There were only two available seats next to each other in the stalls for the last night and I couldn't not take them.

cornmeal pancakes

The recipe below for crispy cornmeal pancakes is based on this one for blueberry pancakes, which I wrote about way back in the olde-timey days of 2006.

If you live or vacation in a place where people keep cows, do try to get fresh, local butter for your pancakes. It's the right thing to do.

local butter

local butter

If you are not on tour right now shaking your peaches all over the world, then I recommend the Swiss yogurt from Gregory's Coffee: low-fat yogurt, skim milk, cold cooked whole oats, and some chopped apple, banana and almonds. It's not as good as these pancakes but I think it's a decent alternative, and it doesn't smell weird like egg whites on whole grain toast.

crispy cornmeal pancakes

serves 2

1 cup sifted all-purpose flour
1/4 cup yellow cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 tbsp. sugar
1 egg
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vegetable oil, plus a little more for cooking
butter and maple syrup for serving, and sliced strawberries would be nice too

Sift the flour into a medium-sized bowl and stir in the cornmeal, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Beat the egg with the milk and the teaspoon of oil and stir this mixture into the dry ingredients with a fork until everything is thoroughly blended.

Heat a good, heavy pan or griddle (cast iron is ideal) over medium-high heat and grease it with the additional vegetable oil. (The instructions in the recipe linked to above are spot-on about using a paper towel to coat the pan with just enough oil so have a look at that).

Ladle or spoon the batter into the pan to make pancakes as big or small as you like. For classic, generous pancakes, use about 1/4 cup of batter for each. Let the pancakes cook undisturbed until small bubbles form on the surface and then flip them over with some confidence. They should be golden brown on each side and crisp at the edges.

Serve the pancakes with butter and real maple syrup, not the cheapo maple-flavored syrup. If you are trying to impress anyone (including yourself), heat the syrup until warm. Sliced strawberries are nice on top, too.


1. Firbank, Ronald. Vainglory. New York: New Directions Books, 1986.


  1. cable-knit never looked so rock-n-roll!

  2. I totally agree, and it has me wishing for sweater weather . . .

  3. Hello! I love all these pancake recipes you posted. Will have to try to make some. And that butter looks so real that it looks fake!

  4. Thanks Michelle! I thought so too, I was kind of stunned when I unwrapped it and saw how yellow it was.

  5. Those pan cakes look great.
    Thanks for sharing:-)
    X M