Every family has some unique ways to eat meals. Almost every meal of my childhood involved meat and potatoes with the usual gravy accompaniment. Even at that age, I never liked the gravy…I learned how to make it…but to this day, I don’t eat gravy as a rule. I’m also not overly fond of peanut butter…I like the flavor, but my favorite meal definitely doesn’t involve peanut butter on bread or anything else. I am definitely not the norm in my family.
Many years ago, my mother went with her boyfriend (my father) to breakfast with his uncle and aunt. Dad’s uncle was only a few years older than he so he was more like a brother. Dad spent a few years working for Duane building boats. On this particular morning, Dad and Mom sat down to a breakfast with sausage and pancakes and much to Mom’s surprise, sausage gravy!
Mom looked around trying to find the syrup which was her normal accompaniment to pancakes and there was none to be found. Annie, Duane’s wife, noticed her confusion and simply smiled and stood up and reached for the syrup out of the cupboard and placed it on the table. With relief, Mom grabbed the bottle and fixed her pancakes. Mom had just experienced a uniquely Gage way of eating breakfast. The sausage wasn’t just meant to be eaten – it was also used to prepare the gravy to top the pancakes. This was something that Mom never got used to, but it was the way that my great grandfather liked to eat his pancakes. I’ve always thought it must be an eastern thing…but who knows it could have been something from the midwest. Throughout his life…when pancake were served at breakfast so was sausage gravy. When my great granddad was in the hospital at the end of his life, my great aunt made the sausage gravy and took it down to the hospital so he could have sausage gravy for his pancakes.
Another strange pancake/French toast topping evidently came from my grandpa Frank Johnson. My Uncle Byron once told me that it was the best tradition that he brought to the family. Evidently, Grandpa Frank loved peanut butter just as my father does…and he put peanut butter on his pancakes. My mother said that Grandpa Frank made some of the best pancakes that she had ever had. She asked him one time how he made them and he tutored her on the process. He carefully poured the batter on the hot griddle waiting for the bubbles to start to appear. He then flipped the pancake carefully – being careful to never touch the top with the spatula. My Dad never took this same lesson to heart and my mother would always scold him for flattening down the pancake with the spatula. Seems my mother took her father – in – law’s lessons to heart…and his son didn’t. Uncle Byron said that he remember the first time that he saw my Grandpa Frank put peanut butter on his pancakes. He was a boy and was used to seeing the gravy on the table…but when he saw Grandpa Frank put the peanut butter on his pancakes…he tried it and fell in love with the taste. My father puts peanut butter on both his French toast and pancakes.
Every other year, we gather for our Gage family reunions. Several of us pool together and eat breakfast together…the normal things appear on the table like juice, fruit, bacon, sausage, hash browns…and peanut butter for the pancakes. Turns out that the in law who came into the family in 1939…made an impact. Peanut butter has taken over for the sausage gravy as the favorite pancake topping. Myself…I won’t eat pancakes….but when I eat French toast – I much prefer syrup and butter. The smell of the gravy or the combination of peanut butter and syrup doesn’t smell too good to me.