Pancake: A Global History

Overview

Round, thin, and made of starchy batter cooked on a flat surface, it is a food that goes by many names: flapjack, crêpe, and okonomiyaki, to name just a few. The pancake is a treasured food the world over, and now Ken Albala unearths the surprisingly rich history of pancakes and their sizzling goodness.

Pancake traverses over centuries and civilizations to examine the culinary and cultural importance of pancakes in human history. From the Russian blini to the Ethiopian injera, ...

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Overview

Round, thin, and made of starchy batter cooked on a flat surface, it is a food that goes by many names: flapjack, crêpe, and okonomiyaki, to name just a few. The pancake is a treasured food the world over, and now Ken Albala unearths the surprisingly rich history of pancakes and their sizzling goodness.

Pancake traverses over centuries and civilizations to examine the culinary and cultural importance of pancakes in human history. From the Russian blini to the Ethiopian injera, Albala reveals how pancakes have been a perennial source of sustenance from Greek and Roman eras to the Middle Ages through to the present day.  He explores how the pancake has gained symbolic currency in diverse societies as a comfort food, a portable victual for travelers, a celebratory dish, and a breakfast meal. The book also features a number of historic and modern recipes—tracing the first official pancake recipe to a sixteenth-century Dutch cook—and is accompanied by a rich selection of illustrations.

Pancake is a witty and erudite history of a well-known favorite and will ensure that the pancake will never be flattened under the shadow of better known foods.
 

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Editorial Reviews

Ken Hom

"The Edible series contains some of the most delicious nuggets of food and drink history ever. Every volume is such a fascinating and succinct read that I had to devour each in just a single sitting. . . . food writing at its best!"

Robert Sietsema

"Books in Reaktion's Edible series are paragons of their type; concise and flavorful, jammed with interesting facts, period photos and just a handful of recipes, in case you want to 'do it yourself.' I recommend these books to foodies and academics alike."

Chicago Tribune

“The books in the Edible series combine straightforward historical data with affectionate ruminations on how the food shows up in culture: movies, music, TV shows, billboards, slogans.”—Julia Keller, Chicago Tribune
The Chronicle Review

"Ken Albala has pancake credentials. He writes that during half a decade of graduate schoool, he made a pancake every morning, without exception. In any case, he clearly enjoys tracing the dish's global travels, from the hot stones that might have held the 'ur-pancake' of our Neolithic ancestors through such aspects of pancake history as Shrove Tuesday celebrations, mining and lumberjack camps, and kitschy American pancake houses, never losing track of the pleasures of the flat."--Nina C. Ayoub, The Chronicle Review
Globe and Mail - Laura Penny

"The book is a lark, because Albala has fun taking pancakes very seriously, opening with a persnickety intro disqualifying all sorts of flattish rounds from pancake-hood. He offers exacting instructions about pancake preparation, and holds forth on crepes, latkes, Ethiopian injera, Mediterranean socca, Thai puk moh and North American pancakes in diner, IHOP, frozen, mix, and home-made form."
Eats.com

“Albala perfectly marries [his] occupational penchant for facts with an innate literary style. His personal musings on the definition of the pancake often mirror a one-man, Socratic approach to problem-solving. Though the questions are posed internally, Albala is able to intelligently convey the results of his reflections to his audience, and the reader instantly becomes a willing party to the author's pursuit of the elusive pancake. . . . Albala's authorial voice and style is refreshingly consistent with his batter-born object of desire--light, sweet and immensely satisfying."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781861893925
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books, Limited
  • Publication date: 10/15/2008
  • Series: Edible Series
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 312,697
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Ken Albala is professor of history at the University of the Pacific in California. He is the author of many books, including Cooking in Europe: 1250–1650, The Banquet: Dining in the Great Courts of Late Renaissance Europe, and Beans: A History.
 

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Table of Contents


Introduction:  What is a Pancake?
 
1  Comfort Food
2  Celebration
3  Street Food
4  Working-class Food
5  Fine Dining
 
Afterword
 
Recipes
Select Bibliography
Websites and Associations
Acknowledgements
Photo Acknowledgements
Index
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