Yesterday was the Chandeleur, a lovely excuse to stuff myself with crêpes in the name of tradition! Not to be confused with Mardi Gras/Shrove Tuesday, another wonderful crêpe-filled moment, La Chandeleur occurs every February 2nd. Its roots, like so many other holidays here are a result of the meeting of pagan and Christian tradition. The pagan ceremony was all about light, the Christian add-on commemorates Jesus’ presentation at the Temple. Neither the pagans nor the Christians seem to be present in today’s supermarket-endorsed celebration. Instead, la Chandeleur comes across as an occasion to get together with your family (and friends) and have fun eating crêpes and trying to flip them in the air. I’m not much for flipping anything other than coins but I still tried to flip one in the air yesterday. Needless to say, my small audience got a good laugh and then spent the next ten or so minutes eating while imitating me…and the sound of a wasted crêpe falling to the kitchen floor. I didn’t care, it was so nice to hear everyone laughing and healthy for a change.
Laura even recited the story of Roule Galette. I think it must be a pre-school classic here–you can start working on it in January for the Galette des Rois and then finish it up with La Chandeleur and Carnival. While the galette in the story is closer to the Galette des Rois than to a crêpe, they’re both round, tasty, classic deserts. The Galette story reminds me of the Gingerbread Man. Like the Gingerbread Man, the Galette escapes from the old woman who baked her and her husband before meeting a regular cast of animals. The Galette meets and outruns in short order a rabbit, a bear and a wolf. Each time anyone thinks of eating it, the Galette starts singing its little song which ends with the lovely “you can’t catch me!” All of my crêpes, minus the one that hit the floor, ended up caught and eaten! If you want to make your own, no need to buy a fancy mix. Crêpes are little more than flour, eggs and milk.
Here’s a quick crêpe recipe to get you started:
- 1 cup flour/128 grams
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup milk/1/4 liter
- 2 Tbsp. sugar
- pinch of salt
- optional: dash of rum or vanilla extract
- Mix all ingredients together in a blender until very smooth. (You can also whisk them together by hand if you don’t have a blender available.)
- Pour into a bowl and let it sit for an hour in the refrigerator.
- Grease your skillet with butter and heat until hot.
- Using a ladle, pour a small quantity of batter into the skillet and immediately tilt the pan so that the batter covers the entire surface and forms a thin crêpe.
- Let the crêpe cook until the edges turn brown, flip, continue cooking and add any desired toppings (chocolate, butter/sugar, etc.)
- Serve immediately and enjoy.
- Note: You can also make all the crêpes at once and then reheat them with the topping of your choice.
And as a finishing touch, the Roule Galette story with the classic illustrations that Laura loves. The story is told in French, but the pictures speak for themselves!