Pancakes around the world – The Denver Post

Nearly every culture or country cooks its take on what we call pancakes. France has its crêpes; Eastern Europe, their blinis. With those, we are familiar; with Finland’s pannukakku or Hungary’s palacsinta, not so much. Likewise, by and large, for Ethiopia’s teff flour-based injera or Colombia’s corn meal-based cachapas.

Cakes cooked in a pan are worldwide.

Korean cooks make pajeon, a pancake savory with scallion (“pa,” in Korean) and often kimchee or seafood. It is favored not only for its flavors, but also for its texture, soft and chewy on the inside, crisp at the edges and on its surfaces. No maple syrup for these pancakes, only a chile-hot dipping sauce, salty with soy.

The American (U.S. and Canadian) buttermilk pancake is similar, nearly ingredient for ingredient, to the Russian oladya, our pancake’s forebear by several centuries. We use buttermilk; in Russia, Ukraine and Belarus, cooks use that or, more often, the fermented milk drink called kefir, or sometimes yogurt.

In Ukrainian, “oladya” is “oladka,” the basis for the word “latke,” the Jewish potato pancake. Both words, the Russian oladya and the Ukrainian oladka, derive from the Attic Greek terms “eladion” (“olive tree”) and “elaion” (“olive oil” or “oily substance,” such as butter), perhaps pointing to how and in what such cakes were fried and cooked.