It’s Shrove Tuesday. Mardi Gras. Or, as we usually call it round these parts, Pancake Day. So I made some pancakes. Hey, it’s as good a reason as any, right? What I don’t get, though, is the existence of a product called pancake mix.
Pancakes are really, really easy to make. You mix eggs, milk, flour, and a dash of oil or melted butter. Maybe a bit of sodium bicarbonate if you like. It doesn’t even have to be wheat flour: almost any starch will do. I’ve used yam flour and rice flour to make gluten-free pancakes very successfully in the past. If you want thick, American-style pancakes, add more flour; add less for crêpes.
And yet, every year, the shops are full of packets of pancake mix. Pancake mix! And people buy it! The very idea that someone would take a recipe so trivially simple, made with everyday basic ingredients, and commoditise it into a branded product—well, it makes me quite irrationally angry.
There’s something disempowering about the whole thing. What was once a simple recipe made with things that everyone had in their larder is now cast as a niche product that can only be manufactured with the assistance of corporations.
Perhaps I’m overreacting. I’ll tell you what, though: come the end of civilisation, it’ll be the people who bought ready-made pancake mix who die out first.