Top 10 pancakes to try around the world
Brianna Mills, 13.02.18
The Alterative Canteen: 10 min read
Food. Our love of it is universally binding. It doesn't matter who you are or where you're from, you have some kind of food culture. If you didn't, you wouldn't last long. That's why eating your way around the world is such a sensational and eyeopening experience. And no food is a better example of this than the pancake. Everyone has their own idea on what the perfect pancake should be like: fat vs thin, sweet vs savoury, the debate goes on. The quest for the perfect pancake has caused so many different cultures to come up with delicious variations and we at Alternative Airlines want to sample them all. Here's a list of the top 10 alternative pancake experiences we have had from around the world so far:
The best pancakes around the world
10. The Blini, Russia
If you're heading to the world cup this year, grab some blinis for your pre-match/ post match bulking. Similar to the famous French crêpe, the Russian take on the pancake comes with decadent toppings. Traditionally served up with caviar and sour cream, they may look like your standard crêpe but if you go for this classic variety you'll certainly get a taste of their rich Russian influence. Blinis were historically prepared at the end of winter to honour the rebirth of the new sun (Maslenitsa or "butter/pancake week"), similar to the christian Shrove Tuesday/ Pancake day.
Take me to the pancakes: If you're not flying to Russia any time soon, check out this recipe.
Russian Blini with caviar
9. South American Hostels
This entry is very niche for the top 10 pancakes around the world but South America is our dark horse in the pancake olympics. Not only are they unusually amazing and a regular feature on hotel/hostel and local breakfast menus, they are often filled with a sweet spread to rival Nutella. At this hostel i discovered the delights of dulche de leche, a condensed milky caramel sauce. It tastes great in combination with fruit and is a perfect Nutella alternative. The Brazilian variation of these pancakes swaps out banana for melted cheese but the less said about that the better. I first sampled these in Friendly AQP Hostel, Arequipa and never looked back.
Now, it wouldn't be fair to mention South American pancakes without taking our hat off to Adventure Brew, La Paz, Bolivia. Taste-wise, these pancakes don't even come close to the other top 10 delicious snacks on our list, but, like real estate, pancakes can be all about location, location, location. At a whopping 3640m above sea level, the highest administrative capital in the world is not for the faint-hearted. When you wake up in La Paz for the first time with a massive altitude hangover (god forbid an ACTUAL hangover) you're going to need some comfort food. And what better food than free, unlimited pancakes.
8. Poffertjes, Amesterdam
This traditional Dutch batter treat is made with buckwheat flour. Their small size means that you can eat a LOT more of them than regular pancakes without feeling quite so awful and their light, spongey texture gives them a more dessert-like quality. This is probably why poffertjes are often sold sweet, with powdered sugar and butter. Best eaten at Christmas markets or summer festivals.
7. Mandalay Market, Myanmar
Unfortunately, I've only come across these pancakes once. This lady, sat in the heart of Mandalay market, Myanmar, churns out scrumptious savoury pancakes for a constant stream of locals. Similar to to an Indian Dosa (see below), but with a definite South East Asian flair, these pancakes are perfect for the street food grazer. An this woman is the expect chef to make them for you.
6. Breakfast with the Tuareg, Libya
You can even eat pancakes in the Sahara. On a 7 day camping trip in Libya, Alternative Airlines team member Sophie spent some time with the nomadic Tuareg people. Mixed with yeast and goats milk from the Tuareg's tiny farm and cooked on underground coals, sharing these pancakes with out in the middle of nowhere was an unforgettable experience. Not to mention delicious. Well worth a place on our top 10 pancake experiences around the world.
Take me to the pancakes: Best check your local foreign travel advice office before hitting up this one, but remember countries change all the time so keep checking back!
5. The Crêpe, France
This list would not be complete without the classic French crêpe. So delicious, so versatile, the world has been swept away by this type of pancake time and time again. It can be tasty savoury snack with ham and mushroom, or the perfect sweet treat with banana and honey, or maybe even nutella and more nutella; everybody has their favourite. Any food you can eat for dinner and dessert in the same meal deserves a place in world food hall of fame, i reckon.
4. Terang Bulan (Martabak Manis), Indonesia
Terang Bulan stal, Bali. Photo credit: uprouted.co.uk
Spread across the whole country from Bali to Sumatra, Terang Bulan sellers come out at sundown to supply the local with their evening dessert. Always paired on a stall with its deep-fried savoury conterpart, Martabak, Terang Bulan is a thick pancake with a more crumpet-like consistency. Meaning 'Bright Moon' in Indonesian, Teranag Bulan is cooked in a thick round pan and topped with condensed milk, cheese, chocolate sprinkles, peanuts or other regional variations. Then, it's folded in half like a sandwich and chopped up into bitesize pieces.
3. Dosa, India
The masala dosa was the first thing I ate when I arrived on the Indian subcontinent, and it certainly wasn't my last during my stay. A typical feature of the South Indian diet, dosa looks like the classic crêpe, but it's unlike anything you'll find in a Parisienne crêperie. It's main ingredients are rice and black gram and it's normally stuffed and served alongside sambar (a lentil-based stew in a tamarind broth). Like all authentic Indian food, it's a flavour sensation and a must-have breakfast item. Well deserving of a top spot on our top 10 pancakes around the world countdown.
2. The ones you have at home
You can travel the world, eating as you go, but nothing quite matches up to those ones you can get at home. Whether it was the extreme pancake flipping competitions that made them taste so good, or just the company, you can't beat sharing up a massive pile of home-cooked pancakes with your friends and family.
1. Wild Berry, Chicago, USA
Of course, home made pancakes are great and everything, but if you asked me the question:
"if you could be eating pancakes anywhere in the world right now, where would you be?"
The answer would be Wild Berry, Chicago, USA every time. When it comes to breakfast, more importantly, when it comes to pancakes, America knows what it's doing. And Wild Berry, in my humble and very subjective opinion, is the créme de la créme of this fabulous eating experience. The fact that the restaurant is only open for breakfast and brunch says it all.
Wild Berry Cafe, Chicago. Photo credit: Alex Booth