Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of flour
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of baking powder
  • ½ tablespoon of baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of melted butter
  • Eyeball a teaspoon of vanilla

Method:

  1. The day was so great. It was forty degrees in February. In fucking Chicago too. There was a perfect mix between sun and cold enough . So my girlfriend and I had planned a date together to cook some pancakes for ourselves and my parents. But we met downtown cause the weather was perfect. My day was off to a good start and I had it all planned out. After we’d spend some time downtown and get her some art supplies, we’d head home and get cooking. This part of every date makes me feel kinda gross. “Alright, let’s hop on the bus and head home.” I told her. She eagerly said yes, as she always does. She is just happy that we’re together. No matter the circumstances. But for me, I always feel bad about us taking the CTA. First off, I live kinda far from anything, so it’s never a super quick ride. And secondly, I just don’t feel like a good boyfriend. I can do so many things, put in so much effort, yet not being able to drive or afford a lyft even makes me feel so shitty. “You can’t even drive your girlfriend back to your place.” I repeat in my head, over and over. Almost the entire bus ride. I apologize almost every time we’re on the bus or on the train together. “I’m sorry I can’t get us a car or drive us, I’m the worst. I’m so sorry, again.” I think about us standing out on the street. The cold breezes get stuck between Chicago structures, sending them our way like a thousand small needles to pierce our pale faces. But regardless of these overthought shitty thoughts, we get home. And I made sure I had every ingredient needed, I had also texted my mom to double check a few hours earlier as well. Once all of this is confirmed, we get cooking.
  2. I had the cooking part all planned out in my head. I’d put on some nice music, a chill romantic playlist that either of us had made. We’d make everything together, from separating the dry ingredients from the wet ones. Getting a little messy when mixing them all, but not so much it made my place look sloppy because I always thoroughly clean the kitchen before I know we’re going to use it and I had just the perfect amount of mess planned for. When flour or batter got on our hands and faces, we share laughs that’d echo down to our hearts and bring us closer together. When we’d pour the batter out onto the pan, we share sweet kisses before flipping them. Or try flipping them without a spatula. I’d get the bacon on the cast iron and she’d do a cute jump whenever the oil would pop a bit, making me laugh. And after making all kinds of pancakes, from banana chocolate chip, to blueberry, or cinnamon pecan, we set the table and share this glowing pile of fluffy, breakfast cakes for dinner, with my family. Everyone would take bites and smile after each pancake coated their mouth in sweet, cakey warmth. Just like at a great diner for your first meal on a Saturday morning. But that’s not how it went.
  3. Instead, after we had made the batter, I repeatedly asked if it was too thick and if it was going to work, which was probably overly annoying. On top of that, before I started pouring them out on the stove, I remembered something. My mom is gluten free and nothing we had just made could be consumed by her. So I quickly paused everything and asked my girlfriend to make a gluten free mix. (Which was from a box and I’m very anti making foods from boxes and shit. Don’t be lazy, make it from scratch.) While she did that, I remembered I had promised bacon. So I pulled out a cast iron skillet and let it heat up a bit and threw some olive oil on there without even thinking. That was an incompent move on my part. Guess what produces its own grease? Bacon. So that cooking lube, as I like to call it, was unnecessary. This made the bacon take forever to cook. After I put the raw slices of pig onto the oil, I watched them practically float in the skillet. This was the point where the stress in my mind flushed down to my body. My shoulders tightened and my fists clenched. I could feel my legs lock into place, waiting for a reminder to move. This is when it felt like the already tight kitchen was closing in even more. It was like the worn down hardwood floors were rising up, pushing towards the white ceiling, while the granite stretched off the wood countertop, pressing against my stomach. My girlfriend had to give me a nudge to take me out of this physiological feeling that genuinely became my reality for a few moments. From then on, I cooked dinner. No one liked the pancakes. I know they all said they did, but they were absolutely trash. Without a doubt. They’re gonna read this and tell me I’m wrong but until I try again and make real pancakes. Good pancakes. Pancakes that soak up maple syrup and are cakey and fluffy. Not pancakes that are battery, that feel like large, flat, sad biscuits, that then tried to suffocate themselves in blueberries.
  4. Realization. Why do foods at home taste so good? Why does the sandwich from your bodegea taste so fucking good? Why does any food that your grandma made taste so much better than any food you’ve ever had? Because they left the stress at the kitchen threshold. They don’t allow it in the kitchen. Once that energy enters the kitchen, it’s in the food. It’s like fuckin’ ecoli. Once you know it’s in the food, you don’t want any. Those pancakes probably weren’t even all that bad, but the energy was off in the kitchen. Did the ingredients say one cup of stress and four tablespoons of frustration? No. So many recipes do call for certain feelings though. “Made with love!” or “Serve with kindness.” The energies in those foods are kind, loving, empathetic and sympathetic. And that food is filling and amazing.