When is a Pancake Not a Pancake?

Once there was a young wombat named Benson who lived in a tidy, comfortable wombat hole with his mother and his two aunts, Lillibet and Moss.

One morning Benson woke up early and he was hungry. He went out to the kitchen and decided to make some pancakes.

“Pancakes are easy,” he thought to himself. He imagined a pile of fresh pancakes lying on his plate, covered in golden syrup and lemon juice. He could almost smell them.

He got the big bowl out of the cupboard.

“Flour,” he said to himself, “that’s the first thing I need.” He opened the cupboard and looked high and low but he couldn’t find the flour anywhere.

“Oh well, ” he thought, “there’s some icing sugar – it’s white and it looks like flour, so it must be nearly the same as flour.” He tipped a cup of icing sugar into the bowl.

“Now I need an egg,” he thought. He looked in the fridge and he looked in the cupboard but he couldn’t find any eggs anywhere.

“Oh, well,” he thought, “here’s a passionfruit. It’s round and it’s about the same size as an egg. It’s probably nearly the same.”

He used his strong claws to open up the passionfruit and he tipped all the seeds and the delicious juice into the bowl.

“Now the last thing I need is milk,” he said to himself. He looked in the fridge but there was no milk, not even a drop. “Here’s some orange juice,” he said to himself. “It’s cold and you can drink it like milk. I’ll use that instead.” He poured some orange juice into the bowl and mixed everything together until it looked about right. It had lots of seeds in it from the passionfruit, but it smelled really good.

He got the big frying pan out and put it on the stove.

Just then his mother came into the kitchen. “What are you doing?” she asked.

“I’m making pancakes,” Benson said.

His mother looked into the bowl. She sniffed. Then she dipped her finger into the mixture in the bowl and tasted it.

“What did you put in it?” she asked.

“Well, there was no flour and no milk and no eggs, so I used icing sugar and passionfruit and orange juice instead,” Benson said.

His mother said, “I used all the flour and the last egg and the rest of the milk last night, making a cake for Aunt Lillibet’s belly-dancing group.”

She tasted the mixture again. “You haven’t made pancakes,” she said. “You’ve made passionfruit icing.”

“Have I?” Benson said. “How did I do that?”

His mother said, “When you’re cooking, you can’t use different things just because they look the same or because they’re the same shape or the same colour. You have to use the right ingredients. You wouldn’t use washing powder instead of flour, would you?”

“No,” said Benson.

“Or glue instead of milk?” his mother asked.

“No way,” Benson said.

“Or a ping-pong ball instead of an egg?” she said.

“No, that’d be silly,” Benson said. He looked at his pancake mixture that wasn’t pancake mixture at all. “I suppose I’ll have to throw this away then,” he said.

“No, don’t do that” his mother said. “It’s really good passionfruit icing. We can put it on the cake I made.”

Benson helped her spread the passionfruit icing on the cake. Then she put the bowl and the spoon in the sink. “I think Aunt Lillibet and her friends are going to love that,” she said. “Next time I go shopping I’ll get some flour and milk and eggs, and then we’ll make pancakes properly.”

Benson remembered something. “I’m still hungry,” he said.

“Have an apple,” his mother said.

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