“YOU WENT TO A PANCAKE breakfast?” my incredulous daughter Miranda asks, emphasizing you and pancake.
Yes, I have confessed to attending a Sunday morning pancake breakfast at my church, Trinity Lutheran in Faribault.
Typically, I do not attend pancake breakfasts. As my immediate family well knows, I eat pancakes only when offered no other alternative. And if I have to eat pancakes, I prefer mine laced with blueberries or mini chocolate chips, anything that will disguise the taste of a plain pancake.
The smell of frying flapjack batter nearly churns my stomach. This reaction, I believe, is triggered by memories of attending a free pancake breakfast at the National Guard Armory in Redwood Falls as a child. Then, I waited too long in a long line in a crowded building that was not well-ventilated.
But this Sunday, I am at the pancake breakfast because my friend Larry, who is going with his wife, Vivian, on a mission trip to China, has asked me to work. “I will do anything except make pancakes,” I tell him.
So I am serving sausages beside Sharon, who is serving pancakes. I’m not sure I should admit this, but the pancakes actually smell kind of good. And that’s good, because just feet away, volunteers pour batter onto counter top griddles and flip pancakes by the dozen.
During a lull, my pancake-flipping friend Leann asks if I’m going to eat. At first I decline, but then give in to hunger pangs and join her with a plate of two pancakes and a sausage.
But it’s more than the pancakes that lure me to the table. Maple syrup tempts me. Ryan, son of my pancake-serving friend, Sharon, made the syrup using sap from trees tapped on his Cannon City area acreage. And even though I’m a life-long Minnesotan, I’ve never tasted pure maple syrup.
I am surprised, expecting thick syrup to pour from the bottle. Instead, this syrup runs like water onto my pancakes.
But the taste, ah, the taste. It is, I discover, unlike the overly-sweet pancake and waffle corn syrup found in most kitchen cupboards. Ryan’s pure maple syrup offers just a pleasant hint of perfect natural sweetness.
Later, when I’ve finished my pancakes, served more pancakes and pitched in with clean-up tasks, I pick up the quart jar of Ryan’s syrup that Ryan’s dad, Carl, has given me. It’s a beautiful color, this amber liquid, a flavorful treat as much for the eyes as for the taste buds.
© Copyright 2010 Audrey Kletscher Helbling
If you’re interested in purchasing Ryan’s Minnesota-made maple syrup, e-mail me or send your contact info via a comment (which I won’t publish) and I’ll connect you with Ryan.