Wednesday, September 9, 2020

Sherlockian pancake fever

 How much do five-year-olds know about pancakes? 

That non-Sherlock-Holmes section of A Study in Scarlet is our only Canonical reference to pancakes, that king of breakfast culture. And that one reference is weird.

"I'll bet she meets us at the door of Heaven with a big pitcher of water, and a lot of buckwheat cakes, hot and toasted on both sides, like Bob and me was fond of."

Little Lucy, last name unknown, is thirsty, so that pitcher of water makes sense. But those dry, crispy pancakes? No butter, no syrup, but somehow important that they are "toasted on both sides."

Who toasts their pancakes on only one side? Who leaves one side of their pancakes raw, wet, and bubbly?

Of course, little Lucy, last name unknown, is wearing a pink pinafore in the middle of a barren wasteland, having just been told that everyone she knows has died of thirst, which she somehow was sheltered from, as if she was just carried into existence by a weather-beaten old guy she didn't know too well before he decided to raise her. Maybe we can't expect her to make much culinary sense.

Now sugar maples grow throughout the part of the country where Lucy surely came from  -- "down in Illinois." Maple syrup could be had, as well as butter. To not think of those two things, and just hope that your pancakes are just "toasted on both sides" is rather sad. Lucy does talk about the trees that the current barren wasteland is missing, so she was familiar with those big plants that make the syrup juice. 

But she doesn't mention the syrup . . . maybe at age five she thought it was an automatic part of the pancake. Or maybe in the 1800s, with no Cheerios to give toddlers to chew on, Lucy's Southern Illinois clan just gave the tots silver dollar pancakes to keep them quiet. Mom could carry a buckskin bag of the things around with her to calm a hangry Lucy.

We never hear what happened to brother Bob. (Which concerns me a little bit, because I can think of a couple Sherlockian couples who were named Lucy and Bob, but weren't siblings, still, we hate, therefore, to think of anything bad befelling a Lucy and Bob. Especially if they liked pancakes.) He did like those double-toasted pancakes, though.

There's just a lot of weirdness going on with that Lucy kid in A Study in Scarlet. And the pancake issues seem to get right to the core of it.

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