Articles: Antwone Fisher Would Agree; Pancake Mix Just Ain’t Mom’s Scratch




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Laurence Washington

One of the most defining moments in "Antwone Fisher," is when Antwone (Derek Luke) describes his troubled childhood and his abusive foster mother (Novella Nelson) to base psychiatrist Jerome Davenport (Denzel Washington).

However, Antwone tells Davenport that when he would wake up in the morning and smell the pancakes his foster mother was cooking, he knew everything was going to be OK.

My childhood was nothing like Antwone Fisher’s. In fact, it was just the opposite. Mine was fantastic. One of the reasons I guess, if I use Antwone’s method, is that in the mornings you could always smell the pancakes my mother was cooking.

Well…there was one morning, I was 10 years old, when there was Antwone Fisher-ish "big trouble" in the Washington household.

Mom – Mrs. Freddie Washington to you – tried to shuffle, stack and deal off the bottom of the pancake deck without anybody being the wiser.

On that particular Saturday morning in 1965, my mother ran out of pancakes’ main ingredient – flour. Mom, unbeknownst to me, reached into the cupboard and did the unthinkable – the old switcharoo.

Meanwhile, I was doing what I still do best. I was sitting in front of the television set watching Saturday morning cartoons until Mom called me to the table.

As I sat down, I didn’t have to worry about buttering the steaming stack in front of me – Mom always took care of the buttering detail. I just had to pour on a more-than-generous helping of maple-flavored Log Cabin Syrup.

As I happily dug in to the soft mound, my mother left the room – to wash the dishes, I guess. As my fork cut into the third pancake, my rapid chewing suddenly stopped. My taste buds went to Defcon-4.

My taste buds act as sensors, guarding against such green nasties as spinach, brussel sprouts and okra. On this morning they had been put to the test.

When my mother returned, she noticed that my pancakes, with generous divots sliced into them, were pushed over to the edge of the plate.

"What’s wrong with those?" she asked.

"They taste funny," I replied. "There’s something wrong with them."

Mom didn’t say a word for a couple of seconds, but then realized she had made the fatal mistake. She had always cooked from scratch: cakes, pies and biscuits. Mom confessed. "You have to have flour," she said. "So I just whipped up the Hungry Jacks. Pancakes are just pancakes."

Mom’s pancakes – which she still makes for me frequently – are always fresh and lively, for lack of a better word. Box mix is always stale and synthetic, just like the man-made eggs they serve in middle and high school cafeterias.

I don’t think Antwone Fisher ever experienced the old switcharoo.

For those who know that pancakes aren’t just pancakes, try the following made-from-scratch pancake recipe from my mother. It was given to her in 1947 by her father, Oscar Usry. She remembers him as being a good cook, at least when he was sober.

With this recipe, I guarantee a better-than-Antwone-Fisher "good day" everyday!

Mom’s Pancakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking power
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
2 cups milk
3 tablespoons vegetable oil

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Add egg, milk and vegetables oil to dry ingredients. Beat well. There should be small lumps in the batter.

Heat pancake griddle, oil with vegetable oil and a dry paper towel. If griddle is too hot pancakes will burn. Turn heat down to medium.

Drop batter from large cooking spoon on griddle. Turn with pancake turner when pancake bubbles. Remove from griddle when pancake stops steaming. Butter pancakes as you stack them on plates. Serve with a good syrup. Makes about four servings.


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