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:
Russian Blini with caviar
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 pancake but if you go for this classic variety you'll certainly get a taste of their rich Russian influence. Historically, blinis were prepared at the end of winter to honour the rebirth of the new sun (Maslenitsa or "butter/pancake week"), which is similar to the christian Shrove Tuesday/ Pancake day.
Photo credit: Miriam Ramos
This entry is very niche for the top 10 pancakes around the world but South America is our dark horse in the pancake olympics and these are some of the best. Panqueques are simple, Argentine crêpes that are filled with thick and indulgent caramel sauce. Find them in any good cafe in Buenos Aires or around the country.
Take me to Argentina: Plenty of airlines in South America fly to Argentina. Alternatively, you can find regional flights to Buenos Aires (Ministro Pistarini International Airport - IATA: EZE) with Aerolíneas Argentinas, LATAM Argentina or Norwegian Air Argentina.
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.
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.
Pancakes are such a global treat that you can even eat them 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.
Photo credit: Alpha
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.
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.
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.
Photo credit: Rama
Injera is really more of a flat bread than a pancake, but I couldn't leave off this unique Ethiopian delicacy. Made from sourdough teff flour and with a slightly spongey texture, Injera is typically served as the base for different kinds of wat or tsebhi (traditional stews).
Take me to Ethiopia: Fly to Ethiopia with Ethiopian Airlines, who even serve Injera on bord their Business Class flights.
Wild Berry Cafe, Chicago. Photo credit: Alex Booth
While pancakes around the world all have their different unique styles and flavours, for me, the classic American stack always wins out. In fact, if you asked me the question: "If you could be eating pancakes anywhere in the world right now, where would it 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.
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