It’s almost time for my favorite holiday of the year: Pancake Day. Tomorrow gets more buzz as Mardi Gras or even Shrove Tuesday, but this leaven-using, pre-Lenten blowout is best observed by eating pancakes.
Some celebrate by participating in pancake flipping races–Olney, England claims to have originated this tradition in 1455 and now competes against flippers in Liberal, Kansas (“The Pancake Hub of the Universe,” with its own International Pancake Day Hall of Fame). While I hope to one day make it to one of these cities to see aproned individuals run down the street with their frying pans, I’m pretty satisfied for the time being to eat pancakes for at least one meal. At least.
I like to think that Leslie Knope would share my enthusiasm for the snack-based holiday, considering that we both love s’mores, whipped cream, and waffles. As such, I’m using that as a weak transition to talk for one second about Amy Poehler’s book, Yes, Please! Yes, Please! is a delight. Filled with photos, notes, and letters, Poehler’s memoir is easily the heaviest book I toted around last year. Luckily, it was also one of the quickest to read. A hilarious look back on her childhood and time spent in the improv trenches, what struck me most about Poehler’s book is how humble and grateful she is for her achievements. They are never described as something she deserved; rather, they are the product of extreme hard work and support and collaborative efforts of friends. She never stops appreciating what she has, and I loved that. Fans of her work or those trying to break into the industry will undoubtedly get a kick out of reading about her failures and successes, as will women who are after some refreshing lady inspiration. For those of you who would rather not carry around the dense hardcover, the audio version boasts an all-star cast and a starred review over at Booklist. Frankly, I have a feeling both formats are worth experiencing. Yes, Please! certainly isn’t a life-changing book, but it’s one I came away from liking people a lot more. It’s an honest dose of humanity that could do most people good. I can also say, that Amy Poehler is someone I would like to eat pancakes (or waffles) with one day. See that? I brought it around full circle.
And to wrap up, I’ll mention my two current favorite cookbooks, in case you’re in need of a pancake recipe.
Coming in at polar opposites, are Thug Kitchen: The Official Cookbook (Eat Like You Give a F*ck) and Quirk Books’ Little Old Lady Recipes. If Irvine Welsh were to write a cookbook, it would be Thug Kitchen. Vegan recipes made edgy with ridiculously filthy language, this book is as entertaining as it is awesome, and it contains an easy recipe for whole wheat banana pancakes. Equally entertaining, but a bit more prim and proper, is Little Old Lady Recipes, which thumbs its nose at cooking shows and foodie culture by getting back to basics and a liberal use of lard. Pictures of little old ladies, both sweet and sassy, are paired with the recipes they’ve contributed, including classic pancakes for those who’d rather not go the vegan route. If you’re in Chicago, I got this quaint cookbook added to the public library’s collection. Don’t even worry about it.
Happy Pancake Day! Go eat some pancakes!