Pancakes are a type of food made from flour and water and cooked on a flat frying pan or griddle. Frequent variations are the use of milk, buttermilk, sour cream, or other liquids in place of water, as well as the addition of eggs, butter, and sugar. Pancakes are frequently unleavened but some use a leavening agent such as baking soda. Pancakes are a global cuisine and in various forms can be found throughout the world. Thin French crêpes are particularly well-known, being used in both dessert preparations and for main-course dishes.
Each culture varies the recipe and has its own traditional was of preparing and eating the food. In the United States, pancakes are regularly consumed as a breakfast food along with maple syrup. In the United Kingdom, pancakes are synomonous with the Christian feast of Shrove Tuesday, also know as Pancake Day, because they are a good way to use up eggs and animal fats, foods that are avoided during the pre-Easter period of Lent, which starts the next day. The Brittany region of France is known for its large crêpes or galettes that are made with buckwheat.
In Beijing, China, jian bing are a popular pancake-like street food sold from carts equipped with a round griddle. The cook pours a thin film of batter onto the griddle, then coats it with liquid egg, hoisin sauce, hot sauce, scallions, or other ingredients of the customer's choice, and folds it into quarters. Often it is served with a piece of fried dough folded around it to keep the heat and grease away from the customer's fingers. The supply of batter is replenished throughout the day by small motorized carts that distribute it to the vendors from a central kitchen. American students in Beijing have humorously named the snack "Egg McMao."
In the Unites States, pancakes are also frequently called "flapjacks", "griddle cakes", "hot cakes", "buckwheat cakes", and "fritters", among other terms.