by: Riyam Kafri AbuLaban
Taima, my six year old daughter loves pancakes in all shapes forms and styles. Today she stood by me in the kitchen and added three of everything to make pancakes. She was hungry, dinner was not ready yet, and she wanted something sweet tihlayeh as she and her brother like to call it. “Something to give us a sugar rush mama!”
1.5 cups all purpose flour (or as Taima puts it 3 halves)
3 Tbsp Yogurt
180 mL Milk (3 x 60 mL portions)
3 tsp baking powder
3 tsp vanilla
Pancakes in our home are a favorite. They are a reminder that life can still be as fluffy and spongy and soft even if just for a brief moment. But perhaps pancakes serve a bigger purpose, they are our Sunday breakfast ritual, and a staple during Christmas break. They are a sanctuary from the rigorous schedule we keep and an important element of their favorite past-time, “quality time with Mama and Baba.”
She added three eggs, to three tablespoons of yogurt, to 3 (60 mL) portions i.e 3/4 cup of milk, and whisked them in a bowl.
Having spent six years in Tennessee, nothing says lazy weekend like a stack of pancakes, and while I love my Palestinian cuisine, nothing warms my heart like butter milk panckakes with melted butter and warm maple syrup. It seems that somewhere along the line of raising my children, I passed this love to them. And as you can imagine, we have gone through many versions of panckakes, until today Taima literally made the best version!
She then added 1.5 cups of all purpose flour in 3 half cup measurements and whisked even more. After that she added the baking powder (3 tsp) and the vanilla (you guessed it 3 tsps!
I think our complex personalities shine through our cooking. I am Palestinian, but there is a good old warm Southern woman, with wide hips, a messy bun, and an apron around her waste hiding inside me, waiting to pop out at the site of the first pancake, or the smell of the first piece of fried chicken!
Beyond the pancakes, and the fact that Taima’s recipe tasted much better than mine, what started like a tingle in my heart turned into a full fledged wrench in my chest. My daughter was growing up. Less than four years ago, she had her first bite of my panckakes and today she hands me over the fork to have a bite of her own. And before we know it, she will be graduating high school heading to college.
Whether intentionally or not, but letting the pancake batter stand for about ten minutes allowed the baking powder to work its magic. We heated the a small pan, slathered it with lots of butter and poured a ladle of batter. We lowered the heat, and watched the bubble form and pop, then flipped it over. Taima used also a teddy bare shaped pan.
There is so much of Taima that reminds of me as a child. Her eagerness to learn, her dedicaiton to her studies, her love of reading and writing. As I watched her gulp down the pancakes, I couldn’t help but worry whether she will get the same opportunities (if not better ones ) I had as a child and a teenager or not. What will it be like to live here in thirty years? It is already difficult now, will it bettter? Will it be worse?
Taima stacked the panckakes then dusted them with powdered sugar, she cut a piece (with my help) and we then took a photo that immediately made it onto instagram right before she dug in!
Will she be uprooted from her home, forced to leave in the middle of the night, leaving all of her memories behind including our favorite picture ? Uncertainty is part of life, but in Palestine uncertainty can mean the difference between living and dying having a home or loosing everything.
I am sure that mothers across the word worry about their children’s future every waking minute and in their dreams. I am sure they watch their children in the rear mirror while driving and wonder what will it be like five, ten and twenty years down the line for them. I realize I am no different than any soccer mom in any suburb anywhere else in the world, but then again, I have watched Palestine dip into what many call the worse era of our history. I watched Syria destroyed, torn into bloody pieces. What about all the soccer moms there, did they ever think their children will end up in refugee camps? I watched Yemen burn into a pile of black soot, what about the mothers there? Did they ever expect that one day they are making pancakes, and the next their children are dying. And then there is Gaza…expected to be inhabitable by 2020. A few hours away, and there, I am sure people don’t need to wonder what their children’s future would be like, because the present is proof enough of what waits just around the corner of time….
Taima, I hope the twinkle in you eyes never fades, that smile never shrinks in width, and that eagerness to learn only grows. I hope you will always measure you self worth by the good you do in the world, not by the length of your hair, the width of your waste, or the color of you lips. I hope you will pursue your dreams, and never succumb to the harsh realities. I pray that your father and I will have the strength and ability to stand by you always, and that we will help you raise your children, and spoil them with unnecessary gifts. We love you and Basil very much, you light our lives with joy!