Arriving at each new city, the traveler finds again a past of his that he did not know he had: the foreignness of what you no longer are or no longer possess lies in wait for you in foreign, unpossessed places. ― Italo Calvino, Invisible Cities
This morning I woke jubilant, anxious. Tomorrow I leave for a three-week European holiday. From Rome to Florence to Siena to Luca to Paris to Bordeaux to Biarritz to wherever the day takes me, I know I’ll return from this trip changed in some way. For the past few months I feel as if I’ve been smothered by the largeness of things. Boxed into a disturbance in one place, where the shapes that ghost my days are monstrous, chattering incessantly. There’s a whisper I’ve only now been able to shake, and in a city so large how is it impossible to feel so small? — the irony of which certainly does not escape me.
This holiday could not have come at a more opportune time, as I need to feel unsettled, off-kilter. I need to get lost in order to find myself again. My first week is a little manic because I’m itinerant: plane to plane to plane to city to unknown bed to dinner to lunch to train to hotel to unpack. I complain about it, but part of me knows this is perhaps what I need to do to shake the remnants of the last few months out of me. To come home, eyes-wide, belly full, heart open. To come home with more than what I left.
But not yet… First, I’ll spend some time tinkering in the kitchen, wearing down the jacket and pages of Gwyneth Paltrow’s cookbook (realize that every time I type this something inside me curls and dies). Today I made her buckwheat banana pancakes, and believe me when I say these cakes have a face only a mother could love. They’re brown, bordering on grey, with bits of banana poking through, but to say these are delicious and hearty and filling would be an understatement. I love the weightiness of the buckwheat juxtaposed with the creamy banana, made luscious with the golden amber syrup. These cakes are surprisingly light, and I felt satiated without feeling sick. Plus, these are packed with so much goodness, you won’t feel horrible having pancakes for breakfast.
INGREDIENTS: Adapted from Gwyneth Paltrow’s It’s All Good, with modifications
1 1/4 cups almond milk
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp grape seed oil
1 tbsp maple syrup, plus more for serving
1/2 cup buckwheat flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 cup white spelt flour (substitute rice flour to make pancakes completely gluten-free)
1/2 tsp salt
2 small bananas (or one large), thinly sliced
1-2 tbsp coconut oil
Mix all the wet ingredients together in a small bowl. Mix all the dry ingredients together in a slightly bigger bowl. Add the wet to the dry and stir just enough to combine – be careful not to over-mix (that’s how you get tough pancakes).
Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium-high heat and add a tablespoon of butter. Ladle as many pancakes as possible onto your griddle. Place a few slices of banana on top of each pancake. Cook for about a minute and a half on the first side or until the surface is covered with small bubbles and the underside is nicely browned. Flip and cook for about a minute on the second side. Repeat the process until you run out of batter, adding in the remaining tablespoon of coconut oil between batches. I ADORE coconut oil with this as it lends a delicious sweet flavor to the cakes. Serve stacked high with plenty of maple syrup.