Brunch For Dinner

What do you do with a quart of gloriously sweet, perfectly viscous, diabetes-inducing, pure Canadian maple syrup?

My mouth is watering just thinking of this liquid, amber-colored heaven.

You make pancakes, of course! Add a side of bacon and eggs and you’ve got yourself an authentic Sunday morning brunch. Unless you are like us and decide to have your brunch for dinner on a Monday night because someone insists on eating pancakes.

A few of my brunch ingredients have been elusive. One required a long-distance flight, another required experimentation, and the remaining was pure luck. The first was my syrup. I have checked every jam and sauce isle in every one of our neighborhood grocery stores with no luck. I simply cannot find anything maple flavored. I understand that maple trees are not indigenous to South America, but I really think there is a potential market for maple bars here! Fer claims you find some if you shop at the horror-of-all-American-horrors that is Wal-Mart, though I am avoiding that place until I can no longer stand whatever craving drives me there. It’s bad enough that I’ve already eaten Burger King (which was Fer’s craving, not mine). My syrup arrived in the welcomed care package of American goodies sent by my aunt in Seattle. I feel compelled to admit that I have gorged on Cheeze-Its, peanut butter, marshmallows, and Rice Krispies treats (thanks, Grandma!) all weekend, and that I am going to need a salad diet when all the junk food is gone.

Bacon also isn’t easy to find, but we’ve been creative and found a few solutions. Describing bacon as “slices of smoked, salty, cured pork” apparently elicits thoughts of Italian pancetta, which is not quite right. We normally ask our butcher at the market to cut us a small slab of pork belly, panceta with one “t” here, that we then slice by hand at home. It has the same fat stripes as American bacon but is a different texture and slightly different taste due to its unsmoked state. It is a sufficient substitute for us, and a lot less expensive than the Bacon Man. Last night we used some packaged panceta ahumada found at Carrefour, which turned out to be a tad too salty but had a great meat to fat ratio.

I don’t know whether Buenos Aires is suffering a baking powder shortage or if it’s less common than I was expecting, but it was remarkably hard to find! Neither of our two reliable markets had the little red jar of Royal brand powder. I ended up searching the larger supermercado‘s baking isle for several minutes before I happened upon a single packet by reaching into a top-shelf box of dried yeast.

I’ve made countless pancakes from the classic boxed Bisquick mix, but this was my first attempt at making them from scratch. It wasn’t particularly easy or quick: I measured some ingredients in grams, some in cups, some in millilitres, and I am positive I got all of them wrong. My little pancakes stuck horribly to the first old sartén, then cooked unevenly in the second. They ended up more spongy than fluffy no matter the pan. Next time I will better heed my grandma’s old advice of not overworking the batter: “Lumps are always better!”  I will also find myself a nice cast iron griddle.

It’s a good thing I have so much maple syrup left, as I feel the need to perfect the American brunch in this breakfast-deficient country. Even if brunch ends up being a weeknight dinner.

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3 thoughts on “Brunch For Dinner

  1. For the missing Baking Powder:

    Replace one teaspoon baking powder with the combination of 1/4 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and 1/4 teaspoon cornstarch.
    or

    Replace one teaspoon of baking powder with the combination of 1/2 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/2 cup sour milk/buttermilk or plain yogurt. Be sure to reduce the total liquid of the mixture by 1/2 cup to make up for the added liquid. For example, reduce the milk called for in a batch of cookies to 2 cups if the recipe calls for 2 1/2 cups with all of the called-for ingredients.
    or

    Replace one teaspoon of baking powder with the combination of 1/4 teaspoon baking soda plus 1/3 cup molasses. Be sure to reduce the liquid of the mixture by 1/3 cup to make up for the added liquid. For example, reduce the milk called for in a batch of cookies to 2 cups if the recipe calls for 2 1/3 cups with all of the called-for ingredients.

    For your panceta…try using liquid smoke and sea salt or kosher salt

    Heat your pan to a higher heat….slowly….makes a difference… and make sure you have the proper amounts of oil in your mix

    • Thanks for the great tips, mom! I don’t know why baking powder was so scarce, but we went to a better stocked store last night (also farther away) and found lots of it no problema. Liquid smoke sounds really difficult to find- Argentines might see it as sacrilegious to reduce asado to liquid additive!

  2. Hi, I’m glad I found your blog! I also live in Buenos Aires, and yes, I think there is a shortage on baking powder and baking soda for that matter. Several times I had to go on hunt to numerous stores just to track down a little package. Weird, but that’s Argentina!

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