17 Comfort Foods For Deep Winter

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RYAZAN, RUSSIA. MARCH 13, 2016. Blini (Russian pancakes) during Maslenitsa festival [Pancake Week]. The holiday celebrates the end of winter and marks the arrival of spring. Alexander Ryumin/TASS (Photo by Alexander Ryumin\TASS via Getty Images)

12. Pancakes

In the U.K., “pancakes” are typically flat, unleavened things, similar to a French crepe. American pancakes usually incorporate some sort of leavener (like baking powder), resulting in a fluffy, pan-fried concoction that is closer to a cake proper. Scottish pancakes (also called “drop scones”) also use leavener and are more similar to the American version, though they’re usually quite a bit smaller. Big American appetites to the fore again, I suppose.

While I’m on a bit of a history kick, here’s another fact. In the Britain and many territories throughout the British Commonwealth, the treat is associated with a particular time of year. They’re traditionally cooked on Shrove Tuesday (the day preceding Ash Wednesday), sometimes called “Pancake Day”, charmingly enough. The story goes that families were looking to use up perishable ingredients before the austerity of Lent.

Pancakes aren’t just limited to Europe and the United States, of course. In fact, they’re probably one of the oldest kinds of food preparations around. Eritrean and Ethiopian chefs create a pancake-like flatbread, called injera, which diners use to scoop up other bits of food. In Russia, diners eat up blini, a thin buckwheat pancake, with savory ingredients like sour cream and caviar. Some archaeologists think that Native American communities made a type of pancake with maize, roots, and leavening agents in the pre-Contact era.

Recipe: Blueberry pancakes + pancake 101 (Smitten Kitchen), Blini with smoked salmon (Ina Garten)

Healthy variation: Whole Wheat Pancakes (Fifteen Spatulas)