As you may have guessed, I’m having pancakes for breakfast. Not because I woke up thinking about pancakes (although that has happened…more than once), but because I have a hankering for syrup and people tend to question your sanity if you sit down with just a bowl of syrup and a spoon. As long as you bring a plate of pancakes with you, no one gives you a second glance.
To clarify, I’m not talking about Log Cabin or Aunt Jemima. I grew up with homemade syrup: brown sugar, water, and Mapeline. I still won’t eat any other kind, not even “100% pure maple syrup from Vermont” that comes in a cute little jug.
When I was a kid, my mom made breakfast for us every day–well, Saturday was cold cereal day, which (ironically) my siblings and I were usually the most excited about. She’d get up early, pack our lunches, and create a huge breakfast of pancakes or waffles or French toast with eggs and bacon or sausage. If there wasn’t enough leftover syrup in the refrigerator, she’d take out a pot and get a fresh batch started. She never measured the ingredients–just dumped in sugar and water, brought it to a boil, then poured in the Mapeline. She’d yell that breakfast was ready and we’d come out of our rooms, head straight to the table, sit down, and drown our plate of carbs in warm, delicious syrup. Every morning, a comforting, reliable, yummy start to our day.
When I moved away from home and tried to recreate this syrup myself, there was quite a learning curve. I started with what I hoped might be the recipe, adding about a cup of sugar and two cups of water, but the taste wasn’t right. I played with the amount of Mapeline, but it was still way off. After several batches, I finally looked up a recipe. The sugar to water ratio was supposed to be 2 to 1 not 1 to 2. No wonder my syrup didn’t taste right–and no wonder I loved this stuff so much!
I finally have it down now, and just like my mom, I can make a successful batch of syrup without measuring ingredients. And now that I can make it, sometimes I just want it, probably as much for the cozy nostalgia of it as for the actual flavor.
There’s no logical reason for me to eat a plate of pancakes this morning. I certainly don’t need the fat or the calories. Nevertheless, here they are, sitting right in front of me, steam rising off of them, waiting patiently for the dark brown stream of syrup to be drizzled over them.
I don’t do it every day, nor do I want to. But on days that I do, I take out a pot, dump in sugar and water, get the pancakes going, and give myself permission to enjoy each and every wonderful bite.