Skip to main content

Distributed for Reaktion Books


A Global History

Round, thin, and made of starchy batter cooked on a flat surface, it is a food that goes by many names: flapjack, crêpe, and okonomiyaki, to name just a few. The pancake is a treasured food the world over, and now Ken Albala unearths the surprisingly rich history of pancakes and their sizzling goodness.

Pancake traverses over centuries and civilizations to examine the culinary and cultural importance of pancakes in human history. From the Russian blini to the Ethiopian injera, Albala reveals how pancakes have been a perennial source of sustenance from Greek and Roman eras to the Middle Ages through to the present day.  He explores how the pancake has gained symbolic currency in diverse societies as a comfort food, a portable victual for travelers, a celebratory dish, and a breakfast meal. The book also features a number of historic and modern recipes—tracing the first official pancake recipe to a sixteenth-century Dutch cook—and is accompanied by a rich selection of illustrations.

Pancake is a witty and erudite history of a well-known favorite and will ensure that the pancake will never be flattened under the shadow of better known foods.

  Click here for a special, limited-time offer for the entire Edible series.

128 pages | 25 color plates, 25 halftones | 4 3/4 x 7 3/4 | © 2008


Food and Gastronomy

Reaktion Books image

View all books from Reaktion Books


"The Edible series contains some of the most delicious nuggets of food and drink history ever. Every volume is such a fascinating and succinct read that I had to devour each in just a single sitting. . . . food writing at its best!"

Ken Hom, chef and author

"Books in Reaktion’s Edible series are paragons of their type; concise and flavorful, jammed with interesting facts, period photos and just a handful of recipes, in case you want to ’do it yourself.’ I recommend these books to foodies and academics alike."

Robert Sietsema, restaurant critic for the Village Voice

"The book is a lark, because Albala has fun taking pancakes very seriously, opening with a persnickety intro disqualifying all sorts of flattish rounds from pancake-hood. He offers exacting instructions about pancake preparation, and holds forth on crepes, latkes, Ethiopian injera, Mediterranean socca, Thai puk moh and North American pancakes in diner, IHOP, frozen, mix, and home-made form."

Laura Penny | Globe and Mail

“Albala perfectly marries [his] occupational penchant for facts with an innate literary style. His personal musings on the definition of the pancake often mirror a one-man, Socratic approach to problem-solving. Though the questions are posed internally, Albala is able to intelligently convey the results of his reflections to his audience, and the reader instantly becomes a willing party to the author’s pursuit of the elusive pancake. . . . Albala’s authorial voice and style is refreshingly consistent with his batter-born object of desire--light, sweet and immensely satisfying."



Table of Contents

Introduction:  What is a Pancake?
1  Comfort Food
2  Celebration
3  Street Food
4  Working-class Food
5  Fine Dining
Select Bibliography
Websites and Associations
Photo Acknowledgements

Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press