My grandmother, like most housewives in the 1950′s, cooked. Whether or not she liked it I’m unclear, but she was at least a decent cook in the kitchen. I have a collection of her recipes and cookbooks that have been passed down to me, and I always smile to myself as I leaf through them and imagine what sort of dishes would have graced her dinner table.
One thing I knew she cooked for sure was pancakes, or rather pannekaken. Unlike the certainty that clouds the rest of my knowledge about what food my grandma produced in the kitchen, I’m positive she made pannekaken because she taught my mom the recipe, who in turn made them for my brother and I growing up.
There’s a lot about my grandmother’s heritage and culture that is a mystery to me. I know bits and pieces, like what town in Norway her side of the family hailed from. I have a very strong memory of her teaching me how to say “I love you” in Norwegian even though I don’t remember the phrase itself. But there’s far more that I don’t know, both about her and Norwegian culture in general. I remember being fascinated by grand tales of the Vikings in grade school because I had a strange sense of pride learning about them in class and knowing that they were the people that I’m descended from.
For the longest time, I had no idea that my mother’s pancake recipe was a Norwegian one. I should have surmised as much when she first told me it was my grandmother’s recipe, but I naively assumed that it was a standard pancake recipe gleaned from the pages of some 1950′s housewife magazine. It was only when my brother asked my mom for the recipe after moving out of home did I discover the recipe’s heritage thanks to a simple Instagram from my brother with the caption “Norwegian pancakes, just like how my grandma made them.”
I don’t often bother with breakfast, even on the weekends. I’m lazy and not the biggest fan of breakfast food. But sometimes, it’s worth it to get out of bed a little earlier than I’d prefer to make magic in my kitchen. A little bit of flour, milk, butter and eggs come together to make something incredibly wonderful. I eat my pannekaken with syrup and often wonder if my grandma preferred that or the more traditional lingonberry. In truth, it takes no time at all to make pannekaken. Foregoing that extra half an hour in bed is a small price to pay for a dish that can bring back childhood memories of breakfasts with my family and my grandmother’s tales of Norway.