… not much. In fact, after baguette, I would say crêpes are a solid number 2 on the list of classic French foods. (Although, according to BuzzFeed, baked camembert is pretty high up there as well.)
Essentially a thin pancake, crêpes originate from Brittany, a region in the northwest of the country. Nowadays, however, they can be found throughout France, both in small stands lining busy pedestrian streets and larger sit-down restaurants known as crêperies.
While studying in Paris, it became somewhat of a Thursday evening ritual to get a nutella and banana crêpe at the same stand right outside the Odéon metro stop before heading to class. Trust me, if you had to sit through a two-hour lecture in French about Louis XIV while filling up a notebook with a horribly incorrect French/English combination of class notes, you would need a pick-me-up beforehand as well.
Two years may have passed, but if I close my eyes, I can still taste the banana slices resting snugly in the generous spread of this chocolate hazelnut gift from heaven, all protected by the warm dough just a bit crispy on the edges.
And while eating what is likely the only take-away food one will find in France while navigating through hordes of crowds, there was always the chance our mouths would end up smeared with nutella by the time we arrived to class. The risk was totally worth it, though.
Besides these weekly crêpes and the occassional dessert crêpe my host mother would prepare, I didn’t experiment too much with these Breton classics. Guilty of always being drawn to the nutella options on the menu, I rarely happened upon a savory crêpe, known as a galette, until I moved back to France in September.
While sweet crêpes are made with white flour, savory galettes are made with buckwheat, a darker flour that is naturally gluten free. In fact, contrary to what I originally thought, buckwheat is not a cereal grain at all. Rather, it’s a fruit seed similar to rhubarb or sorrel.
And after 4 months of living in France, I figured it was about time I made some myself.
To make the batter (for about 5 galettes), mix together the following:
- 1.5 cups buckwheat flour
- 1 cup milk
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 egg
- pinch of salt
The resulting product will be more watery than you would expect, but that’s okay. Let it rest for about 1.5 hours before beginning to cook.
When you’re ready, butter the pan and pour in one ladle of the mixture, tilting to make sure it covers the entire surface. Cook for about 2 minutes on one side before flipping it and cooking for another 1.5. (Keep in mind that I like mine a little crispy, so the cook time very well may vary.)
The traditional French galette is filled with a generous sprinkle of gruyère cheese, slices of ham, and an slightly runny egg cracked on top for good measure. However, I decided to switch it up a bit and create a vegetarian galette with emmental cheese, leeks (which I had already sautéed for about 10 minutes) and an egg.
Let me tell you: the resulting product did not disappoint.