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Chris Erskine makes a crepe and is not ashamed to say so

Cooking. Shopping at farmers markets. Dads aren't what they used to be. And yet they are.

August 13, 2011|Chris Erskine

She has the skin of English royalty — very fair, a little peachy in the cheeks, freckles. The little girl carries herself like that too, as if there will always be some manservant to open the door or carry her across rain puddles.

That manservant is usually me, but when I'm not around, others step up to the task. She is 20 and lovely as a jar of honey.

I've been making her breakfast all summer, her and her little bro, the one who latched on to me like a tiny mollusk some eight years ago.

Him: "Dad, I caught a praying mantis."

Me: "What's he praying for?"

Him: "A new bike."

Anyway, each morning — him before summer school, her before work — I've made them pancakes and scrambled eggs, English muffins and jam, bagels and cream cheese.

Sensing a bit of momentum, one brave day I even made them crepes.

Now, I'd never seen a crepe, so I was a bit at a disadvantage. I wasn't sure whether they were supposed to be grilled, baked, nuked or flamboozled.

In college, I once cooked a steak on a coal shovel over an open fire, so for a while I considered that technique. Eventually, I settled on a fry pan and headed to the stove, a popular shortcut I've seen their mother use several times.

Here's something you maybe didn't know — I'm sure didn't — but you can make crepes from instant pancake batter. All you do is add a little more beer (or water, depending on your mood that day).

So you've got this extra thin batter, much like a creamy soup, or 30-weight motor oil, and you pour it into a greased pan. Not for long it sits before it bubbles, then you turn it. Done.

Then you take some fresh fruit — strawberries, blackberries, blue — and roll them into the crepe as if you're rolling a banana-sized cigar.

Top it off with a couple clouds of aerosol whipped cream.

Done again.

To your children, you will appear to be the most amazing genius in the kitchen, the kind of Renaissance dad who can make crepes. I've still never eaten one; they just don't appeal to me. But to see the kids nosh down on this novel creation gives me all sorts of paternal satisfaction.

Dads aren't what they used to be — not better, not worse. Just different.

By the way, I spotted the biggest tomatoes of all time the other day at the farmers market — ginormous orbs the size of a grown man's noggin'. We stopped, the little girl and I, and flipped one over to see whether it was still breathing.

Sure enough it was.

The only place my old man ever shopped was the liquor store, yet here I am at the farmers market, where everything is good for you, organic, free range, etc. Amazing this stuff has any taste whatsoever.

It's been an excellent summer, all in all. The little boy has spent it chasing butterflies with his baseball glove and calling frantic, over-caffeinated moms on the phone: "Hello? Who's this? Who? Is your son home, please? Can he play, please? Hello?"

If you receive a call like this, hang up immediately. No good can come of it.

The little girl has spent her summer in unpaid internships and overpriced clothing boutiques.

To be sure, there's a bit of a gap in their ages —12 years, nothing to really worry about.

We have four kids. The first we had so that we could use the car pool lane. The second, same reason (two cars, two kids).

The third kid, the little girl, came along a few years later, we're not sure how — think we found her under a huckleberry bush.

And the fourth, obviously, was an immaculate conception.

What happened is that my wife, Posh, had one egg left — one large, ancient egg about the size of a pencil sharpener. So old, this egg, it wore Bermuda shorts. It could get into movies for reduced rates.

Me, I had one tired old sperm. One night, these two fossils got together in a coffee shop to listen to some music. One thing led to another, as it often does late at night; they left together.

Millions of sperm are usually trying to fertilize one egg. Not this night. This night was magic: One on one, mano on femano.

Conception is a remarkable thing, beautiful, sublime, splendiferous.

Eight years later, we have this gift, a little bug-collecting wiseguy who takes his shirt off in church and is right now, as we speak, breeding praying mantises in the bathroom sink.

What's he praying for?

Conception, probably.

chris.erskine@latimes.com

twitter.com/erskinetimes

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