Pancakes à Go Go
Tomorrow is one of the most fun French holidays, la Fête de la Chandeleur, which is a dream for pancake lovers of all persuasions. Here’s a look-back at how we celebrated it in 2008. And by the way, à go go is one of the cutest French slang expressions too, meaning have at it, all you can eat, non-stop fun. Goes perfectly with pancakes.
Yesterday was La Fête de la Chandeleur here in France, a day when one’s mission in life is to make and eat crêpes. Since I’m not one to ever turn down an invitation from a pancake, our house became a veritable pancake palace. Luckily we had a guest with a birthday to celebrate (merci, Marie), which gave me an excuse to really have a good time in the kitchen.
First, we needed two kinds of crêpes, the sucré and the salé. The sweet and the salty, or savory. The sweet crêpe, is the one we’re most accustomed to, light, made with wheat flour, scented with butter. The traditional savory crêpe is the buckwheat crêpe from Bretagne called a galette de sarrasin, or galette de blé noir. And to be really traditional, the recipe doesn’t include any wheat flour, which makes the crêpes a bit tricky to handle since buckwheat doesn’t contain gluten to hold the batter together. So that’s why I started with a liter of batter, in case I ended up with too many crêpes de chat, the ones that aren’t nice enough to serve to anyone but the cat. Although I have to admit that however French he’s become, Beppo shows no interest in crêpes, either salé or sucré. Thanks Beppo, more for us.
The crêpes all made, the house smelling of butter, and our guest installed at the table, we started with a little amuse bouche (thanks, Lucy) of smoked salmon crêpes, façon sushi.
After that, well, you’ll have to take my word for it, crêpe production being one of those things that’s practically impossible to photograph in the moment. We had little packets of curried peas and crème fraîche wrapped in crêpes, in honor of our guest’s recent stay in India, and then the traditional Breton crêpes filled with ham and Gruyère.
Then for dessert I created a little buffet
of sweet crêpes, with choices of , from the top left, Pierre Hermé’s sensational lemon cream, a whipped chocolate ganache, toasted pecans, a blueberry compote from the Pays Basque (merci, Noël), an aromatic Basquaise pastry cream (thanks, Paula), an apple and Calvados compote, and a bowl of sugar to go with the slices of lemon that we picked from our little lemon tree just before dessert. The sun flooded the table, the cider flowed, the conversation was animated, and it was just one of those perfect slices of time where all was exactly as it ought to be.
And then for supper, instead of stockpiling a nice heap of crêpes for a rainy day as I’d planned, we ate all the leftovers. Because really, when do we get to have pancakes twice in one day? Drat, I’ll have to make more again soon.
In pursuit of the perfect pancake, look no further than the crêpe. Filled with your favorites, it’s whatever you want it to be, and a crêpe buffet is a make it yourself affair that offers you a great reason to play with your food. Thanks, la belle France, for inventing such a great holiday.