Rhode Island is the home of the johnny cake.
Rhode Island is the home of the clam cake.
You can almost predict where this is going, can’t you?
I’m not the first person to think of putting clams in some sort of pancake: Barefoot Kitchen Witch did it four years ago (recipe). I might be the first person to think of making the clam pancake a johnny cake (recipe from The Foodie Grad).
Solving the recipe conundrum left me with the question of whether Rhode Island is large enough to have bands, or if the drummer ends up in Massachusetts. Actually, since the Boston Phoenix has released its 2012 Best New Bands in America, I decided to check out its pick, ambient noise mixer Kareem Abdul Jabbar Jr. (Soundcloud). Do you want to be hypnotized?
What you see in the mini-food processor is maybe an eighth of a gigantic yellow onion, three large mushrooms, and a couple of leaves from the remains of my badly bolted basil. Whirr!
Whirr is, by coincidence, more-or-less what KAJ, Jr.’s “Introspective Memory Sequence” is doing. It also bangs gently. Fortunately, my food processor hasn’t started doing that.
I spot a harmonica sound near 2:15! Harmonicas are introspective.
This time, I thought I’d learn from the Baked Eggs Napoleon fias- adventure and sauté the modified mirepoix before adding it to the batter. Since I don’t want to upset the balance of oil in the batter, I omitted it entirely, on the theory that the point of a non-stick pan is that things don’t stick.
By now, the brush-on-drum effect should have assumed the urgency of the sort of dream in which one needs to run but can’t move fast. I’ll admit, I’m not sure what’s going on here isn’t the musical equivalent of pretentious twaddle. But that’s why I occasionally consult the Phoenix. I need my twaddle twiddled.
The opposite of pretentious anything is Jiffy cornbread mix. Yes, mix. Yes, Jiffy. The little box that’s 47 cents at the grocery store. I’m willing to believe that it has magical properties, particularly as I always screw up pancake batter. Into the mix goes one egg, 3/4 cup of milk, and two tablespoons of olive oil. The recipe calls for melted shortening, and if I were making a sweet pancake, I’d use butter. But for a savory pancake, olive oil seems right.
It also seems right to give a listen to the track that the Phoenix recommends: “Hoverboards.” This starts with reassuring video-game-like boobly-doop sounds. Video game sounds are always ironically hip.
Let it be known that I have no intention of speeding up the vocals to find out what they are. If somebody is singing about love, hate, flossing, home improvement, or Super Mario Brothers, it is not my responsibility. Were it important, it would be comprehensible. But it’s whale sounds.
My responsibility is to drain a can of chopped clams and dump them into the batter. Stir in the clams, then add the mirepoix and a couple good shakes of paprika. Mix well and then let the batter “rest” while the pan heats. Pancake batter gets tired easily.
Presumably the static effect represents when one’s video-game character gets eaten by a ghost and has to restart the level. Boop boop boop boop! Boop boop boop boop! (There was a moment of “Damn, that suddenly sounds good!” Then I realized my computer had moved on to the next track.)
But what you really want to know — other than why my pancake technique is impervious to all efforts to improve it, which I’m increasingly tempted to blame on pervasive stupidity — is why the son of basketball legend Kareem Abdul Jabbar has started posting chillwave songs. It’s a trick. KAJJ is the project name for Elliott Romano, who is a white kid cutting tracks in his bedroom. Think Owl City, without the perkiness, as well as without the lyrics. This is the difference between Minnesota and New England. Minnesota: endlessly cheery. New England: dour.
Oh. My. Word.
I have inadvertently invented a flat hushpuppy without the perils of deep-fat frying. Seriously: these pancakes taste just like hushpuppies. They’re crisp on the outside and creamy on the inside. And they’re totally not greasy. Which is to say, I’m likely to gorge on them, wallow in them, and wear them for casual Friday in a Lady Gaga-esque manner. They are way better than the oven-baked hushpuppies from a dozen states back.
This calls for “Depths of the Cellophane Ocean,” the one track so far that I really, really like, probably because it sounds suspiciously like the old Music From the Hearts of Space radio show, complete with airy swooping effects, icy melody, and more DEC Mini booply-doops. DEC booply-doops were booply-doops that meant business.