How to be an artist, part two: cooking

September 16, 2013 — by Helen Wong and Carolyn Sun

Pancakes are supposed to be easy to make, especially if you’ve got a box of pancake mix. Just mix, pour and cook. Bam. 

However, for those of us who are culinarily challenged, making pancakes can be the prelude to creating a weapon of mass destruction.

It all started one fateful summer afternoon.

Pancakes are supposed to be easy to make, especially if you’ve got a box of pancake mix. Just mix, pour and cook. Bam. 

However, for those of us who are culinarily challenged, making pancakes can be the prelude to creating a weapon of mass destruction.

It all started one fateful summer afternoon.

We were starving, as we’d just had a tough SAT study session. Starving people don’t refuse food, and there was a box of pancake mix, staring enticingly at us from its spot on a shelf.

Junior Carolyn Sun and I teamed up and started off perfectly fine. Opening the box wasn’t hard and neither was opening the bag of mix. In retrospect, we should have just left the cardboard container on the shelf, but since we were fairly (read: overly) confident in our abilities to cook pancakes from mix, we forged on, tossing the mix into a soon-to-be-much-abused bowl and adding eggs and sugar.

Sure, some sugar spilled out onto the counter, and sure, maybe some eggshell made its way into the bowl, but we shrugged it off. Protein is good for the soul. It looked more or less like pancake batter should, and on a whim, we added gigantic chocolate chips.

How were we hapless cooks to know that frying large chunks of chocolate wasn’t a good idea? After all, theoretically speaking, a universal law of the is that if you pop anything in a pan over a fire, it’ll cook. 

We didn’t take into account the fact that those large chunks of chocolate would sink to the bottom of the bowl of batter … perhaps that’s why our last pancakes appeared to be about 90 percent chocolate charcoal. It was a bit hard to tell since both the batter and the chocolate were black — I mean, aromatic shade of noir.

So I decided I was going to commandeer the frying pan and the spatula and the chopsticks, because I felt that such materials gave me power. After all, Pocahontas said something once about how everything has a spirit or some such. I like to think that cooking utensils have spirits too.

Carolyn took on the bowl of batter and, having divvied up these very important duties between us, we set to it, cooking them Chinese-style: we attempted to make pancakes that were 8 inches in diameter.

The first pancake came out very nicely. It was edible, and of a hale and healthy shade common to many good pancakes.

Encouraged by the success of our first pancake and driven by our irresistible hunger, we decided we would make more. 

However … the second pancake, the third, fourth and the fifth all looked less and less like pancakes as we went. The last one … well, desperate people do desperate things. After failing to flip it over neatly, I scrambled it like a fried egg. With the spatula. Carolyn egged me on, by the way (pun intended).

Because we made the mistake of pouring the batter on the edge of the pan, the pancakes came out in unique shapes. In fact, they resembled the works of Picasso and Kadinsky. We honored their memory well, if I do say so myself; they would have been proud.

Of course, eating them was a whole other matter. We thought that the coal-black lumps and charred odor were very charming indeed, but we may have balked a little at the actual consumption of our pancakes.

We split them up. I took half home. I don’t know what Carolyn did with hers.

I did the smart thing and kept it in a plastic box with a clear top, rubber-banded. I carried that box with me every time I saw Carolyn and my other friends, for two weeks straight.

I may have also left the sealed box in direct sunlight for a few hours more than once.

Carolyn told me to toss the box away on pain of death, saying that the pancakes weren’t food anymore, they were Darwinism. I obeyed. I think I saw the pancakes move when the box hit the trash, but we’ll both deny everything if a pancake monster starts crawling out of the dump.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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