Friday, December 18, 2009

Kansas Travel: Pancakes in Liberal

A mural painted on the outside of the City Hall, in Liberal, Kansas, depicts two women running down opposite roads that meet at a 'Y,' as they each carry a skillet. Painted by renowned muralist, Stan Herd, it is a daily reminder of an annual event that has occurred here for more than 60 years.

International Pancake Day began when Liberal residents challenged residents of Olney, England, at a race that began there in 1445. An Olney woman, who was using up the last cooking fat in her house before Lent began (use of the fat was prohibited during the Lenten season), scurried out of her kitchen with skillet and pancake in hand so she wouldn't miss the church service that immediately preceded Lent. She left in such a hurry that she still wore her apron and a headscarf - the latter required for women attending church.

The next year, the women of Olney launched a race in which they each tried to reach church first while carrying and flipping a pancake and, of course, wearing aprons and headscarves. Today, women in the two towns race simultaneously and Liberal's four-day event also includes pancake eating and cooking contests, a parade, English High Tea and other races.

Pancakes have become an integral part of Liberal's culture, and griddle cake lovers have flocked to The Pancake House, on Pancake Boulevard, for more than three decades.

This homey spot offers hearty food at great prices, such as this breakfast of strawberry pancakes accompanied by Canadian bacon, hash browns, a fried egg and coffee, plus an gargantuan helping of whipped cream. Hunters, ranchers, travelers, social workers and families all enjoy breakfast here. Adventurous diners may try chocolate chip or butterscotch pancakes and berry syrups too - or waffles or crepes.

The restaurant also serves sandwiches and a wide variety of entrees. But in a place that serves legendary breakfasts, why would you order anything else?

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