ANSWER: You’ve come to the right place, Peter the Pancake Man. It just so happens, Sun Spots has spent some time in what may be the home of the ploye — the St. John Valley in northernmost Maine — and she really enjoys eating them. Like corn tortillas that are a regional favorite in the Southwest, ployes are eaten more as a flat bread than a pancake and are popular in the northern Maine region and other places with high concentrations of people with Acadian ancestry. Traditional ployes are made with buckwheat flour.

Ployes became popular sometime around the 1850s in the St. John Valley after insects nearly destroyed the wheat crop. Buckwheat emerged as an alternative and farm wives began serving ployes at every meal. Ployes are made with simple ingredients — buckwheat flour, (some recipes call for a combination of buckwheat and all-purpose flour), baking powder and water.

Most large grocery store chains in Maine now stock traditional Acadian ploye mix from Bouchard Family Farms — based in Fort Kent, and quite possibly the ployes authority in the state. All you do is follow the directions on the bag by adding water until the batter is thin. Then you ladle the thin batter onto a hot griddle and let the pancake cook. As it cooks, small air bubbles will form and pop, giving the finished product a cratered look, but those little pockets are perfect for holding butter or other toppings. Possibly the most important thing to remember when cooking ployes is to never flip them. When the top of the flat bread no longer appears wet, the ploye is ready.

People eat them a variety of ways, and honestly, Sun Spots has tried everything from pizza ployes to her personal favorite, plain ol’ ployes with butter, rolled and dipped into chicken stew. Some people do eat them like pancakes — slathered in butter with maple syrup (or even molasses) poured over them and eaten with a fork. Ployes work well for both sweet and savory purposes. The sky is really the limit for how you eat them. Just about any filling, from yogurt and fruit to cold cuts and cheese, or hot dogs, can be rolled up into the ploye for easy eating. Peanut butter and jelly, or butter and sugar work well on them, too.

Each September, Fort Kent, with the help of Bouchard Family Farms, hosts a Ployes Festival, and it’s a real treat. The Bouchard family makes the world’s largest ployes by mixing up five-gallon buckets of their ployes mix and pouring it onto a massive griddle made especially for the occasion. Eager crowds watch and wait, and when the ploye is finished, the Bouchards hand out large pieces with butter.

Use the QR code to go to Sun Spots online for additional information and links. This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can be emailed to [email protected], tweeted @SJ_SunSpots or posted on the Sun Spots Facebook page at facebook.com/SunJournalSunSpots. This column can also be read online at sunjournal.com/sunspots. We’ve joined Pinterest at http://pinterest.com/sj_sunspots.


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.

filed under: