I knew something felt wrong as I began this February, and it came to me yesterday. I had missed La Chandeleur. Did you? La Chandeleur–also known as Crêpe Day, or the Catholic Candlemas– is celebrated in France the second day of each February. Among the number of traditions that happen on this day, La Chandeleur is marked by an elevated nationwide consumption of crêpes. I’m a bit upset over missing this holiday. Why? I’ll take you back.
I had my first bite of crêpe perfection on the streets of Paris with my friend Angela. We were both studying at the University of Oxford for the Fall Michaelmas term, and after a semester of challenging scholastics, we decided to reward ourselves with a December jaunt to Paris. What I remember most? (besides–of course–the amazing architecture, breathtaking museums, and bar-side arguments with Kiwis and Australians over England’s recent win at the Rugby World Cup) (1) Being so cold that I couldn’t even find the strength to make my teeth chatter, and (2) buying nutella-filled crêpes from a tiny little stand during one of those frigid evenings. Ooh la la! I was a changed woman.
Despite this brush with culinary magic, I forgot about crêpes for a long time. Until last February, when I read La Tartine Gourmand’s post about La Chandeleur. Although February 2nd had already passed, I decided to buy a very special someone–we’ll call him N, more about him later–a crêpe pan for Valentines’ Day. No crêpe maker for us. I knew we’d want to experiment until we’d mastered the delicate and somewhat time-sensitive art of crêpery. And we did. Or, I should say, N did. He became the master crêpe maker and recipe creator. Crêpes are in actuality remarkably simple to make. There is little prep work involved…just a bit of foresight and preparation the night before. Find yourself a good pan, go easy on the batter, use your wrist, watch that heat, et c’est tout! Nothing to it. We began with a simple buckwheat recipe and went from there.
Orange extract-laced buckwheat crêpes filled with creamy chestnut purée. Topped with whipped ricotta and orange segments. I apologize for not posting the recipes, as unfortunately they came from N’s head. However, you’re in luck: we also tried our hand at savory two-cheese buckwheat galettes (unpictured) which turned out quite good, and interested folk can find the recipe here here.
So why did the crêpes stop? And why am I lamenting yet another missed La Chandeleur?
Well, this year N and I are cities…states…apart. And as much as he loves me, he took his crêpe pan with him. Quel dommage, especially since I’ve got my eye on this recipe.
So, are you inspired ? I hope so. And just in time for Valentines’ Day, what a coincidence (you’re welcome). A few pointers as you get started in your crepe-making journey:
1. It’s much easier to make crêpes in an actual crêpe pan than in a regular frying or saute pan. There are a range of prices available online, but a relatively cheap pan will do you right and make you proud. N and I used one similar to this.
2. Watch a few online tutorials. There’s a bit of a trick to using your wrist to spread the batter around the pan without having a panic attack, but once you get the hang of it, the job’s a game! This is a good one, as is this.
3. When first learning to make crêpes, always plan to discard the first few ones that you make. They will be ugly, and you must let them go. Breathe deeply. Now do it.
So simple, right? Because if you think this is a bit too advanced for you…you know what I’m going to say [pun alert].
Cut the crêpe.