They say it’s impossible to fake a smile.
Sure, your lips might point skyward and your cheeks may ache from the effort, but anyone looking carefully will most certainly detect something missing. A glint in the eyes. An involuntary crinkle of the nose. The subtle signs of contentedness. Humor. Joy.
When I was a younger version of myself, I’d spend my Tuesday evenings learning the art of acting from a much lauded tutor. She sat next to the Aga, her back perfectly straight, her hair twisted into a ballet teacher’s bun.
“Talk to me about trees” she would say. “Three minutes about anything you like, as long as trees are involved.”
She helped me to pin down the words that escaped me. To grab the ideas that pinged around my mind like super charged rubber balls. To sort them in some semblance of a logical order.
I thought of her the other day as I forced a smile upon yet another unsuspecting enquirer.
“Fine, thanks!” I said in reply to their polite enquiry, cheeks pointed heavenward. “Peachy!”
A flicker of doubt crossed their face. I changed the topic.
“Really. Is everything ok?”
It was then that I remembered.
Fifteen years old. Angsty. Distracted. Performing a piece half-heartedly.
“You need to feel happy to act happy. The joy needs to emanate from your toes and consume your entire being.”
My mind flickered and an image of ten toes decked out in top hats and canes came into view. Happy toes. A suppressed gurgle of laughter. My eyes beamed.
“That’s it!” she said, triumphantly. “Now remember how you got there and do it every time.”
It still works, from time to time, that image of dancing toes in top hats. But only sparingly.
Much better, I think, to actually be happy. And what better way than via a plate of pancakes?
Fluffy and airy. Dense and moist. Tangy and only slightly sweet.
I served them up with circles of honeycomb butter and a punnet of cooked down strawberries.
The lead in my stomach dissipated, replaced with an odd warmth, and my toes (sans top hat and cane) danced with delight once again.
you will need:
1C buckwheat flour
1/2 plain flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp baking soda
300ml sour cream
how to do it:
1. Combine the dry ingredients (buckwheat flour, plain flour, baking soda & sugar) in a bowl and whisk briefly to combine.
2. Combine the remaining ingredients (egg, sour cream & milk) in a jug and whisk briefly to combine.
3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until you have a lovely consistently gloppy mess.
4. Heat a pan up and put the smallest bit of butter and the tiniest splash of oil in it. Dollop 1/4C scoops of pancake batter onto the pan and cook until you see bubbles rising to the top of the pancake. Flip and cook until the pancakes are done all the way through (if you give it a thwack with a spatula, you should hear a light thud).
5. Serve with maple syrup, honeycomb butter & berries.
Crush 1C honeycomb in a food processor. Remove from the bowl. Whip 250g butter in the same food processor, then toss the honeycomb back in and pulse briefly to combine. If you like, roll the butter into a log and pop it in the freezer so you can serve it in neat slices.