Carina has become highly interested in the Spanish language over the past month or so.  I thought it would be fun for her to read some books in Spanish, so we hit the library and picked up If You Give a Pig a Pancake in both English and Spanish. The Spanish title is Si Le Das un Panqueque a una Cerdita.  I thought it was funny that the Spanish word for pancake is panqueque.

Obviously, a pancake is called a pancake because you cook it in a pan.  So, the Spanish translation would make more sense if it was something like pastel (cake) de cacerola (pan) or something along those lines.  As it is, the direct translation of panqueque is Breadwhatwhat. I may be wrong, but I’m thinking that the word panqueque is the result of combining existing spanish words to make it sound similar to the American word, despite the words’ meanings.

But, before I turn into an ugly American, I should probably find out where pancakes come from.  A Google search for “who invented the pancake” returns various results that credit, among others, the dutch, the Romans, and Asians (using rice, of course).  By the way, Aunt Jemima’s pancake flour was the first ready-mix food to be sold commercially.  It was invented in St. Joseph, MO, according to foodreference.com.  Holla to my home state.

Anyhow, the American version most likely originated from American Indians, who called it noekehick.  This was transmangled by the white settlers into “no cake”.  From there it mutated again to “hoe cake” and started being called pancake around the 1870s. (foodtimeline.org) Coincidentally, this is about the same time that cast-iron cookware became popular.

So, pancake is indeed a uniquely American word, and from what I can find online, panqueque is the spanish knock-off version.

Ta-da!  Your evening’s foreign language, American history, home economics, and children’s literature lessons all rolled into one!

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