A Bunch of the Boys Were Whooping It UpFriday, July 2, 2010
And that was before the munchies hit.
The cabin offered no instantly available foodstuff, and even the most rudimentary cooking was out of the question. It was miles to the nearest store, and the notion of driving anywhere was ruled out by meteorology and their utter cognitive incapacity. Panic was threatening to kill the buzz when the head of the house -- I use the term advisedly -- remembered that the cabin had a phone.
Today the boys could just order something for delivery -- but, back in the sixties, there was no delivery, certainly not up in the mountains. Besides, any money the boys might have had had gone up in smoke hours ago.
No, they would have to call for help.
A question loomed before them, a massive problem that challenged them just when their cumulative problem-solving abilities were, themselves, challenged.
Who to call?
It had to be someone who could get there quickly, someone who would know what to do, someone who could be trusted not to turn them into the cops (there was, you understand, a certain level of paranoia in the room). They left this seemingly impossible task to the cabin's owner.
The boys had chosen their leader well.
Not only did he not fail them, he came up with an unbelievably brilliant solution: the blond fifteen-year old daughter of a neighbor. Just as he picked up the phone, he remembered that he had a party line and, showing what seemed to be remarkable forethought, let his paranoia choose his words.
The others watched, waiting for him to acknowledge that there was someone on the other end of the conversation. They only noticed that they had been holding their breaths when he asked his second question.
The room exploded with feral laughter. He paused while the boys regained their composure (no need, of course, to frighten the young thing away).
"Ummmm... we have a little problem. Do you think you could come over and help us out?"
In retrospect, luring an innocent fifteen year-old Scandinavian girl to a snow-bound cabin infested with three whacked-out college students might not have been entirely prudent.
Luckily, for all concerned, it turned out to be the perfect choice. She came right over, ignoring the blizzard outside, sized up the situation, rummaged through the cabinets and refrigerator, and spoke but four words -- including two of the most joyful words in the English language.
"How about Swedish pancakes?"
In unison, the three lads collapsed in helpless anticipatory bliss, amazed at her ability to wrest divine order from a clearly chaotic situation. They stared, mesmerized, as her pale, floury hands formed incomprehensible arabesques through the air, air that gradually acquired a warm buttery perfume, a scent more intoxicating than anything else they had ever consumed. One by one, tender crepe-like pancakes materialized on their plates, and just as magically disappeared.
When Suzie left, an old cast-iron kettle was bubbling on the wood stove, two sleeping cats and three dozing young men were draped over various pieces of furniture, and bliss settled -- as softly as snow in the dark woods -- on the little cabin in the Catskills.
Remarkably enough, when "the head of the house" was contacted, some forty years after the event, he was able to hand over the actual recipe from that night. The faded piece of paper was covered with many other incomprehensible scribbles, but the ingredient list was intact.
Yield: nowhere near enough
2 eggs, beaten until frothy
1 1/2 Cups milk
1 Cup flour
1 capful vanilla extract
- Combine all but the butter in a large bowl. Beat with a fork, or similar item, until it forms a smooth thin batter, just a bit thicker than heavy cream.
- Heat skillet, or other convenient pan, until a few drops of water dropped on it dance frantically. Butter generously, and watch in awe as the butter foams and starts to subside, and a nutty fragrance rises from the pan. Don't savor this moment too long, however, or the butter will burn.
- Pour a small amount of batter on skillet, and spread it quickly into a thin layer that covers the bottom of the pan.
- Cook until lightly browned on the underside, flip and cook briefly on the other side. The pancakes should be thin, smooth, golden, slightly elastic, almost nubile.
- Smear jam all over the tender surface of each pancake before ravishing them.
This story will appear in the anthology Let Them Eat Crepes, due to be published in November 2010.
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