A lunch date with a crispy pancake

June 4, 2018

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Certain foods stick in the childhood memory, it seems, and are often regarded with fondness. Potato waffles, arctic roll and Viennetta are just a small selection of foods that when mentioned in polite company, elicit sighs of delight as memories resurface of teatime treats remembered with a rosy glow.

So when I casually mentioned at work the other day that I had never eaten a Findus Crispy Pancake, a stunned silence filled the room, followed by a roar of incredulity. You'd have thought I'd said I enjoyed drowning puppies (I don't, by the way).

I thought I would find out what the fuss is all about. After garnering people's opinions on the best version of the crispy pancake (cheese and ham appeared to be the favourite) I took a trip to the supermarket to acquire said delicacy. Alas, the flavour of champions wasn't there, so I opted for the plain cheese version.

I noted the branding on the packet contained the health mantra, 'no artificial colours, flavours or preservatives' so I started to suspect it would be one of those food stuffs that had changed sufficiently enough that it bore little resemblance to the original, but I still ploughed on.

After getting them home and taking two of them out of the packet, I have to admit, I did find they looked a bit disappointing. I put them side by side on the baking tray, looking like a pair of crusty beige butterfly wings that had seen better days.

Two crispy pancakes on the baking tray

Still, in the oven they went for 15 minutes. Just to make some attempt at a healthy lunch, I arranged some salad leaves on a plate as 'token greenery', in the hope that when the pancakes came out, the emerald hue of the lettuce would somehow give them a boost.

Two crispy pancakes on a bed of lettuce

I removed them from the oven after their allotted time and prepared to dive in. What I am about to say will probably upset a lot of readers who remember these pancakes with fondness, and I don't mean to make a mockery of your rosy childhood memories as I crush them under my spatula and beat them to a pulp with a wooden spoon - but the pancakes were incredibly disappointing.

I couldn't find any flavour (I suspect the removal of the artificial colours, flavours and preservatives had something to do with it) and I didn't enjoy the texture of the pancake. I found the cheese bland and there was a severe shortage of it (when it comes to cheese, more is always more).

Maybe they've always been this way and I'm the one who is missing something? Or have the fun police been around to the manufacturer since my friends were children and demanded they remove everything flavourful from the pancakes, leaving them a shadow of their former selves?

Either way, I'm sorry to say, I couldn't see what all the fuss was about. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from this - don't visit (or revisit) childhood favourites in case you are left with a taste of disappointment.

However, there will always be a place in my heart for Viennetta...

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