"When I first saw 'flapjacks' in Tesco I was confused, but soon discovered that the British version is actually more like a bar cookie."
Sometimes we cook to recapture what we have lost. Other times, we cook to recapture the life we never had.
Ten years ago, I lived in the United Kingdom. This was not by accident. It was the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. Some little girls want to be princesses, policewomen, or doctors. I just wanted to be British.
I had a child's thesaurus that contained a helpful guide to the differences between British and American English. I memorized that page in preparation for my future career. A flat was an apartment in England; a lift was an elevator; a rubber was an eraser, not a...well, you get the idea. I spent hours watching Masterpiece Theater on television. As an adolescent, boys were mysteriously unmoved by my ability to quote from Jane Eyre and Blackadder.
Yet I was unprepared for British flapjacks. In America, flapjacks are just a synonym for pancakes. When I first saw "flapjacks" in Tesco I was confused, but soon discovered that the British version is actually more like a bar cookie made of oats, butter or margarine, and sugar syrup. The first time I bit into that combination of sweet wholesomeness and fat, I experienced a brain explosion.
Now I understand with the wisdom of experience, not books, that you're never more of an American than when you're living abroad. I've given up on my planned "career." Yet I felt a happy stab of happiness in my heart when I saw Bon Appétit publish a recipe for my beloved flapjacks.
I don't often make flapjacks—my standards are so high and so linked to my memories of the UK, which I still miss dearly. Yet when I heard about a shortcut that would allow me to forgo turning on the oven on a hot night, I leapt at the chance to make them in the microwave. While they do lose some of their golden crust on top, I was surprised at how well they came out.
Flapjacks can be vegan, if you use a non-dairy butter substitute. They're also gluten-free.