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  • Cheryl Catrini


I do a lot of things with words. The obvious. I write with them, both in sentences so long that I believe they would make Oscar Wilde proud and some paragraphs jealous, and then in ones so short that Microsoft Word regularly demands that I revise them because it can't see the forest for the tree fragments. I filter the world through them, experiencing things not firsthand but through how I would write them. I purposely mispronounce them (jalapeño = juh-lop-uh-no, mango = man-gwa-hey). I make them up and then defer to my Shakespearean license when my fiancé points out their lack of Merriam-Webster presence. I change their parts of speech when the ones generally accepted for them don't suit my needs. I hitch them together with hyphens and then change their parts of speech when the ones generally accepted for them don't suit my needs. I do this even in letters to prospective agents (is this why they don't call me?!). I use a lot of them when they are superfluous and not enough when they are necessary. I get them stuck in my head the way that one would get a song lyric stuck and then I string them into song lyrics so often that my son will probably grow up thinking that all life is lived in the styling of a musical. I combine ones from several languages to make phrases that I use as though they are common (es probable que oui) and I use common foreign phrases that most people I know haven't heard of.

Enter cheque leque panqueque.

I had a friend whose father is Honduran and from whom I acquired two valuable additions to my language- cheque leque panqueque and smootie. The latter is the H-less version of smoothie that his accent created and that my mind loved. So much so that while living in the Laurentian Mountains and visiting a little French cafe I saw a sign offering all sorts of fares including 'smooties' and was beyond ecstatic, seeing it not as a second-language misspelling but rather as validation; the universe was acknowledging the legitimacy of the smootie. The former, and the title of this post, cheque leque panqueque, is by far one of my favorite language acquisitions so let me provide a little background.

Cheque is used in Honduras the same way that sure, ok and got it are used in the U.S. I've been told that the leque panqueque part is added by children because it is fun and rhymes, and also, I think, because who doesn't enjoy randomly mentioning pancakes.

In actual use, I find it to be a fair superior way to say “sure”. This really occurred to me when working on a name for this blog. As it were, some people have a tendency to say my name as though it starts with "sure". Accordingly, I penned a few plays on that. Sure as Cheryl, Sure Churryl. The main drawback to these, however, is that “sure” has lost its authority. Sure for me is certain. That is the message I intend for sure to send. When I say "sure" in response to a request, I mean "certainly". For many, though, sure has become an ambiguous response, as though each time it is said there is an unspoken "eh" or "uh" before it. It is also one of the text responses that seem to necessitate a lol or an emoji lest the recipient read the invisible "eh" or "uh". I think that is what I like so much about cheque leque panqueque. It is basically impossible to say it in any way that sounds apathetic or uncertain. Try it. It is one small step toward reclaiming sure, for the things we say to be a little less wishy-washy. Cheque leque panqueque is definitely certain. It is A Cheque Leque Panqueque Lifestyle. Also, it really is fun.

Also, pancakes.

That all being said, pancakes circle me back to my favorite place, the kitchen. I want to share my current favorite gluten-free panqueque recipe (my old favorite had wheat in it but my little leech yells, loudly, throughout the night, should I send any wheat or dairy his way), as well as a handy kitchen routine that I have picked up to create efficiencies and eliminate waste in my breakfast life.

First the new habit. It pertains to a wonderful panqueque bedfellow- coffee.

When it reaches the point in the day that my coffee has been reheated so many times it has to call ‘Uncle’ or it has just become so late that I can no longer risk sharing the caffeine intake with my little leech or I myself fear being too alert during the 30 minute windows in the night when I can close my eyes but my French press still has some coffee left it in, I pour the remainder into a designated ice cube tray. Once frozen, I use the cubes in my morning protein smooties and when the weather is warm (as it soon will be!), in my ice coffee. I would love to be the person who also saves the grounds and makes body scrubs out of them but alas we moved into a building with the kind of drainage that inadvertently turns every shower into a bath. If your drainage is better (I assume all other systems are), it is a fantastic idea. Alternately, I was putting them in our compost bucket for a while but round one of that experiment grew things of its own instead of breaking down and becoming that which will help other things grow. I will have to try that again, next time with more airflow. Perhaps when our indoor gardening grows to include plants that love the acid, the grounds will go there.

Until then, it’s time to eat.

CHEQUE LEQUE PANQUEQUES (the edible version)


2 c. quinoa flour (toasted)

2 Tbsp. cinnamon

2 tsp. baking powder

½ tsp. salt

1 ½ c. almond or coconut milk

2 Tbsp. maple syrup or honey

2 Tbsp. coconut oil, grass-fed butter or ghee

1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 eggs, beaten

Potential Extra:

Lemon zest from that morning’s lemon water lemon.


Over low heat toast the quinoa flour in a dry pan for 10 minutes or so until it turns a light brown color. Doing so will cut down on some of quinoa’s natural bitterness. Let the flour cool then whisk it together with the baking powder, salt and cinnamon. In a separate bowl, mix together the milk, eggs, maple syrup, vanilla, coconut oil and zest, if using. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet mixture. Stir to combine. If you have time let the batter sit, as it will lend itself to fluffier panqueques. When ready to use, heat an oiled/buttered (ß combining the two leads to an excellent boost in flavor) pan over medium-high heat and scoop batter into the pan. Make any size panqueque, silver dollar to flapjacks. I happen to love the tiny little dribblets that fall in the pan. Maybe I’ve transitioned from them being a happy accident to a purposeful size that I make. Regardless of size, flip the pancakes when the edges are starting to firm and bubbles have appeared on the surface. Cook for a few more minutes then transfer to a plate. When making a large batch or cooking for a group, I put them on a baking sheet in the oven at 150° - 200° to keep them warm until breakfast is served.

Enjoy. Thoroughly.


- Measure the oil before the maple syrup or honey. It will prevent them from sticking to the tablespoon.

- This recipe works with other alternative flours (almond, coconut, etc.). I prefer quinoa flour because it has the most protein and is the one that I have found acts the most comparably to wheat flour.

- Unlike wheat flour, however, quinoa flour is not easily overworked so feel free to throw all of the ingredients, wet first, in a blender and give it a whirl. This also makes for easy panqueque pouring.

- These make an excellent make-ahead breakfast for the week. I eat them cold after the first day but they can easily be reheated.

Bon Appetit!

Thank you.

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