Gerbin': A Treatise

I went to Inverness, California, last weekend to visit M and V. They suggested going to the Inverness Town Fair, which became my top priority after seeing this sign advertising it:

This one's going to be a rager.

In addition to the other obvious draws -- epic games and mystical magic among them -- was the promise of a "gerbin' pancake breakfast." I had to know what "gerbin'" meant. M and I practiced using it in sentences, replacing a multitude of words:
"Can I get some gerbin' water back here?"
"I'm so tired; I can't wait to get home and gerb."
"I guess we should just have some tea and gerbinate tonight."
"Let's rent Gerbinator Salvation tonight!"
"I gerb you, girl. I'm so happy to be up here gerbin' around with you."
We went to bed laughing until our sides hurt and dreaming of frolicking gerbins, whatever they are, eagerly anticipating the next morning's big reveal.

The next day, we did, in fact, attend the fair. We saw canes with fabric heads on them and baskets made of dried kelp. We looked at books about astrology, reflexology, nudity, art, and plants. We encountered a stage and a flea market, where I acquired a cornucopia basket for 50 cents. We accepted the cinnamon-sugary fried confections of which I have forgotten the name from the Hispanic ladies. We even passed the big, hulking lumberjacks who were spraying pancakes onto a griddle from some sort of batter-dropping contraption and cooking them up... but there was not a single mention of the sacred word. No signs pointing to gerbin' pancakes or a gerbin' breakfast or a gerbin' anything. We were too afraid to ask the gerbin' lumberjacks what specifically was gerbin' about the fair. We didn't want to sound like idiots; what if we had dreamed the whole thing?

We went back. We had not made it up.

This is a real thing, but why?

Naturally, I have a lot of questions:
  • Is that apostrophe for real? GerbinG
  • If so, how does one gerb?
  • Can anyone conjugate that for me?
  • If the apostrophe is a mistake or trying to be cute, is it slang for "German"? For "gerbil"?
  • Can it only be applied to breakfasts and/or pancakes?
  • If Gerbiny is a country, do you refer to its natives as Gerbese?
  • Do seeds gerbinate?
  • Is it an ancient, foreign, forgotten cuss? "Go gerb yourself!"
  • Can you get rid of gerbs by washing your hands?
I sought my old friend Google. I searched for "gerb," "gerbin," "gerbin'," "gerbing," "gerbin pancakes," "gerbin breakfast," "gerbin pancake breakfast," and all permutations and combinations thereof. Nothing.

Can you help? What do you think it means? And most important, can we bring this word into common parlance?



  1. You know how you can go your whole life singing 'I will always loathe you' until someone points out that those aren't actually the right lyrics?

    I bet the sign maker has just had it wrong his whole life and didn't realize that it's really German pancakes he loves so much.
    The apostrophe though... I can't explain that one.

  2. Anonymous23.8.10

    The Gerbins were a group of Belgian exiles who sought refuge in Germany in the early 1920's. They formed a few small, tight knit communities in the Koln/Bonn region of North Eastern Germany, not too far from the Belgian border. Being such a small group, they had little cultural impact on the region, however they did have a minor culinary contribution which I'm actually surprised to hear mention of outside of Germany. This dish is in fact the Belgian derivative of the well known German Pancake. From what I've been able to glean from century old recipe books passed down through my family for generations, the main difference was the batter, not the preparation. While the specifics are hotly contested, it seems that the consensus was the use of Belgian brewing yeast in the batter, creating very thick and yeasty pancakes that were so light that they were not dense and heavy like their German counterparts.

    Did you try any of the pancakes there? I'll have to go next year and see if I can persuade them to share the recipe with me!

  3. I wish I was there!


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