ugly as sin, yet so, so good: buckwheat banana pancakes

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.


6 thoughts on “ugly as sin, yet so, so good: buckwheat banana pancakes

  1. “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.”

    How do you do this? Write so beautifully? Seriously, your words take my breath away at times.

    Then you make me giggle with the GP references :).

    Enjoy your trip! I am envious in so many ways.



  2. It’s impossible to resist pancakes, even really healthy ones, when there’s lots of maple syrup on top! As kids, my brother and I always stuck to the fake stuff, while my mom enjoyed the real kind. (Probably smart on her part; we doused our pancakes in so much syrup that she’d need to buy a new jar every week!)


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