A pancake pledge to capture the taste of home

  • Share this story
A pancake pledge to capture the taste of home

The simplicity of cinnamon-sugared pancakes is soul food for Sam Woulidge, and a taste she hopes will always remind her son of home.

Plan B. Exit strategy. Relocating. There has been an upsurge of this kind of talk recently. But without what in dinner-party speak is known as a parachute passport, Jacques, Seb and I are going nowhere. And we’re happy with this. Oos, wes, tuis, bes (east, west, home’s best) as the old Afrikaans adage goes.

But this doesn’t mean that we are completely unafraid. Well, Seb is. Because he is fearless and derives immense joy from living in the moment. For Seb, every day is the best day ever. We could learn much from our son.

Having watched some of our friends leave, we are intensely aware of how painful this move is, both for those leaving and for those staying. And before each move we have the same conversation. I ask them not to be the kind of South Africans who bad-mouth our country and derive satisfaction from each horror that may befall us in an attempt to justify their move and ease the pain of having left. I, in turn, promise to not be too smug in my mentions of lunches with loved ones, gorgeous weekends away in the Karoo, icy morning swims at Clifton and how the voice of Bongeziwe Mabandla stirs my soul, in an attempt to stem the rising panic that comes when I do watch the news.

We all want to do what is best for our children. Sometimes this means leaving and sometimes it means staying. I hope that Seb is less attached to this country’s soil than I am; that, with a strong sense of self, he will travel the world and feel the right to belong anywhere. But I do hope that he will always be proud of his heritage.

“What is patriotism but the love of the food one ate as a child,” is what my ma wrote, quoting the Chinese writer Lin Yutang, on a platter she made for me many years ago.

My patriotic flavour is that of cinnamon sugar. It is the taste of melkkos, melktert, pampoenkoekies and pannekoek. Cinnamon-sugared pancakes served with a squeeze of lemon juice is my soul food. These are the pancakes my ma made for me when I was growing up. The joy of crunching cinnamon sugar is surpassed only by the cinnamon syrup that is magically created when warm sugared pancakes rest snugly one on top of the other waiting to be eaten.

We mostly eat them standing at our kitchen counter, hot from the dedicated pancake pan. Seb is in charge of the cinnamon sugaring and the lemon juicing, and he takes this task seriously because his mamma’s pannekoek is his favourite food in all the world. Recently I went swimming with Seb at sunset. We slipped into the coffee-coloured ocean and kelp forest. It was freezing and exhilarating and a little scary because both the light and the water were becoming darker. But neither of us could resist the feeling of freedom, so we joyfully dived underwater, surfacing only to laugh and hug one another. Afterwards, cold and wet, I stood dripping seawater on the floor of my late father’s kitchen as I made my son cinnamon-sugar pancakes. It was long past his bedtime but neither of us cared as we licked the last of the cinnamon syrup from our hands, huddled on the stoep sofa as the last rays of light gave way to darkness.

And uncertainty. I hope that one day, wherever he may be, my son will remember the joy of wild-water swimming with kelp around his legs and salt water on his body, and that he will recall the taste of cinnamon sugar on his tongue and be certain of his mother’s love.

Find the recipe for cinnamon-sugared brandy pancakes here. 

Annzra Denita Article by: Annzra Denita

Annzra Denita is the digital editor of TASTE. Eating good food is her absolute favourite thing and making good food is a close second.

Social Media

You might be interested in...