April 21, 2011 by heartonsleevereview
I always ate the same thing for breakfast: blueberry bagel with strawberry cream cheese and coffee.
Every morning, all week long, for as long as I could remember. Every morning, I would sit at my table, meticulously spreading the cream cheese over the bagel halves, making sure each half has the same amount; don’t want to play favorites, after all.
Each day for years, I would sip my coffee while nibbling on the bagel. That’s a lot of bagels.
Then, today, something changed. Something inside me snapped. I didn’t want to eat any more fucking blueberry bagels and strawberry cream cheese. There’s a whole world of breakfast foods to explore, and I’ve been depriving myself. No more!
I stood in my kitchen, searching the cupboards for something to eat.
Rice? No. A can of lentil soup? Good, but no. Taco seasoning, Ramen noodles, and pasta. No, no, no.
Then, tucked in the back of the shelf, hidden behind a stacked tower of canned vegetables, I saw it: a box of pancake mix. I stood and stared at the box, completely forgetting I had bought it a few weeks ago, and unsure of why I even purchased it in the first place. I grabbed the box, a glass bowl from the cupboard next to the food, and a measuring cup.
I carefully measured out the amount of mix I needed and dumped it into the bowl, followed by the required amount of milk. I stirred the batter until all lumps were gone and I had tired my arm out from mixing.
I grabbed the heavy cast iron skillet that was hanging abobve the stove and set it on the burner. As a child, whenever my father would make pancakes, it was always from the cast iron pan, and this simple act of carrying on that tradition filled me with happiness.
Once the pan was screaming hot, I poured a small amount of batter in the pan, and savored the searing sound it made as it hit the pan. I watched the pancake vigilantly, taking great care not to burn it. Once I thought it was ready, I grabbed my spatula and carefully wiggled it under the pancake and flipped it over. I smiled with joy at how perfect the pancake was on the cooked side; golden brown and slightly crispy.
I fished the pancake out of the pan and set it on a plate, and proceeded to make the rest, getting confident with each one. By the time I was on the last pancake, I was flipping it expertly into the air and catching it in the pan. I was a little let down when I realized I was out of batter, but I had a plate stacked full if golden, moist, delicious pancakes to eat and any disappointment dissipated.
I grabbed the butter from the fridge, seeing the tub of cream cheese next to it, and I sneered as I shoved it away with my hand. Stupid cream cheese…
With my stack of flapjacks, butter and maple syrup, I sat down at the table and buttered the pancakes, watching it melt and slide off the warm cakes. I picked up the bottle of syrup, held it high over my stack, and squeezed a thick stream over my pancakes, laughing as I did this. I put too much on, but who cares? I was eating pancakes!
I sat with fork in hand, and unmoving. I was admiring my plate, not quite believing I had strayed from the norm. Then, like a death row inmate given his last meal, I eagerly tore into the stack, my fork slicing through layers in one fell swoop. I jabbed the pancakes with my fork and shoved them in my mouth.
I chewed vigorously for a few seconds, then stopped, letting the sweetness of the syrup, the slight saltiness of the butter, and a hint of metallic flavor from the cast iron skillet linger on my tongue. I closed my eyes, trying to heighten the sensations.
Bliss. Pure and simple.
I swallowed the bite and sliced through the stack for another, repeating the process over again. Soon, my belly was full, but so was my soul. How odd that the seemingly ordinary act of eating pancakes could affect me so intensely. But I had deviated from the norm; I had stepped outside my comfort zone. I felt liberated.
I know this seems silly, but I have spent so much time sticking to one path, that I forgot there are others to try. And yes, I am using breakfast foods as a metaphor for life. I urge you to stray from your routine, as well.
And a pancake shall set you free…