I recently found myself wandering the streets of Groningen in The Netherlands on a cold December day when I came upon The Pancake Ship. Yes, The Pancake Ship. The Dutch pannenkoeken are far from the typical Bisquik pancakes and maple syrup we Gen-Xers grew up on; rather, they are as big as a charger plate and just a bit thicker than a French crèpe, and the Dutch top them with everything, smoked fish included. The extensive menu at The Pancake Ship cuts across sweet and savory, but if you go for the savory – with meat or cheese or both – be forewarned that the fries and salad are served not on the side, but on top of the pancake. This is a purely logistical presentation as the pancake is so enormous that it hangs off the edge of the plate. The savory pannenkoeken here are a triple layered concoction of heartiness that are best eaten with a pint, or maybe a half pint, of the local beer. If you go for one of the sweet versions, know that the sugar level is high, but oh so worth it. And get a beer with the sweet ones as well. In fact, always get a beer.
Once the pancake extravaganza was over, one of the owners asked me where I was from – an innocuous question I’m often asked when traveling. I told her that I live in DC, but I grew up in Florida. And then the most unexpected thing of the day happened. She began to reminisce about living in Daytona Beach, Florida, when she was in her teens. She talked of crusin’ the main drag and on the beach in a convertible with the radio blaring. I myself have done the same thing, so the bonus part of The Pancake Ship turned out to be a bit of nostalgic chatting about old Florida.