Without Syrup

Tonight's adventure is called French Toast without Syrup. When my host mom or ээж (pronounced ‘ech’) told me this week that she would like to learn how to cook American food, I went crazy. I have definitely be craving all kinds of different foods and with her encouragement I not only created a list of foods, but translated them into Mongolian, listed the ingredients, and drew out pictures of what they looked like. The list included hamburgers, hot dogs, pancakes, grilled cheese, salad with chicken, pizza and french toast along with their hard to translate ingredients like Bisquik, pizza dough, ground beef and syrup.

So tonight, when my ээж asked me what I would like to dinner, I smiled and brought out my list. Knowing we didn’t have ground beef, hot dogs, bisquik, cheese, lettuce, chicken, pizza dough, or tomato sauce, I figured we would go after french toast. Eggs we have, bread we have and syrup...how do you say syrup in Mongolian? I translated syrup, which sounded too much like juice, then molasses and liquid sugar, but ultimately had to show a picture of a syrup bottle which I found on my computer. The answer: we don’t have that. I sat, perplexed, wondering what I could do. Remembering the time I made flan at home with my mom, I smiled at my host sister and said, “Maybe we could fry some sugar!” Why not?

Plugging in the frying pan, we went to town on a couple pieces of toast dipped in eggs. All done they looked and smelled great sitting nicely on their plate ready to be covered with fried sugar. That is when the trouble began. I poured a couple spoons full of sugar into the pan and stirred it around. My family watched me as the sugar melted and turned to a yellowy liquid. Looking good, I motioned that we needed to pour it onto the pieces of toast. They just stared back at me as the yellowy liquid turned brown. I motioned again, realizing for the first time that a frying pan that plugs into a wall isn’t something you can just pick up and pour out easily. Tilting it over as the brown sugar turned black, my host father was able to pour most of it out into a nearby pot, but I was quite disappointed. Our first attempt had failed, marked not only by the rock hard black sugar in the pot but also by the plumes of smoke that now filled the room. Wondering if it was even worth a try, I eventually poured in a couple more spoons full of sugar to go for round two. hoping to pour out the liquid while still in the yellow phase. My host sister was on board with me, turning off the frying pan when the time was right and the sugar had just melted.

A success, we now had decent liquid sugar on the plate next to our french toast. It was short-lived however, as the sugar hardened almost immediately and stayed right on the plate where it been poured. Laughing, and crying on the inside, we took our pieces of toast into my room and chopped through it bit by bit. I poured some of the remaining regular sugar on top of the french toast, which helped some, but overall I have to admit that french toast just isn’t french toast without syrup. My sister and mom liked it, saying that I did a good job, but I hope I get to show them what it takes like with syrup sometime. Maybe I can find it in town...imported from a Russian Aunt Jemima or Chinese Hungry Jack.