Celebrating La Chandeleur – Crêpe Day in France

All ready for Crêpes!

I know what you are thinking—there’s a Crêpe Day in France?  Well, as a matter of fact, YES! I can feel the green mixture of incredulity and jealousy slowly seeping across the Atlantic Ocean. La Chandeleur, also called Candlemas, is celebrated on February 2, and it is a Catholic feast commemorating the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of baby Jesus at the temple 40 days after Christmas. In France, this holiday is also called Fête de la Lumière or le jour des crêpes.

You may have noticed that in my posts, experiences of making food here have been noticeably absent. I vaguely recall admitting that Julia Child would never have feared me as a culinary competitor. Steve is the cheesecake and pancake maker in the family. He is the one who dutifully toted his electric griddle with him across several state lines to the last family reunion a few years back so he could make pancakes for the hoard of 27 always ravenous Hungarians and pseudo-Hungarians. (Hungarian crêpes are palacsinta.)  But when I heard that today is not known as Groundhog Day in France but as la Chandeleur, I had to try my hand at crêpes, this staple of French cuisine.

Our furnished apartment is well stocked, as far as rented places go. I searched the cabinets for a crêpe pan, but no luck. I decided to give the petite non-stick frying pan that I found a go. I subscribe to a triweekly online newsletter that spoke about la Chandeleur tradition and furnished a recipe for crêpes. It looked easy enough, and I had most of the ingredients.

This land of bread and pastries has many different types of flour; some that I am not sure are available in America. What is recommended for crêpes is farine de blé T45 fluide (fine wheat flour). Flours run from 45 up to 150. The higher the number, the less refined the grain; 150 is the equivalent of whole wheat. For crêpes, you use the lightest flour to get that wonderful crêpe texture. My next try may be with farine de blé noir—buckwheat flour for Breton-style pancakes or galettes (like tortillas).

This recipe requires approximately six hours to complete—just kidding!  Actually, I hate to tell you how easy this really was since I do have some pride. I haphazardly threw all the ingredients in a blender, ran it for about a minute, and got ready to pour. Now, I did have to eat the first few attempts, but this is the price one must pay for cooking crêpes. I had put too much batter in the pan, and they were too thick. But once I got the hang of it, I was producing works of cosmic culinary art.

The tradition says that the crêpes must be eaten only after eight pm (so much for tradition), and when cooking them, if the cook can hold a gold coin in one hand and flip the crêpe and catch it with the other, then the family is assured of prosperity throughout the year. Well, I blew the prosperity thing for another year!  And if we wait till after 8, the wine will be all gone.

At the very least, le menu du jour will be crêpes tonight. There is so much you can do with them that it boggles my mind. Tonight will be quesadilla crêpes (hey, we’re eclectic! Let me see, where did I put the tequila?), and if there are some left over crêpes tonight, then tomorrow morning—crêpes filled with an omelet!  Oh, and don’t let us forget dessert crêpes.  There’s always Nutella and confitures!  This will add much-needed variety to our carb intake. After all, there’s only so many baguettes that even we can devour!  Oh, have I mentioned the baguettes in France?

Fête de la Lumière: Festival of Light

jour des crêpes: day of crêpes

le menu du jour: today’s menu

confitures : jams


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Jenny
    Feb 03, 2011 @ 02:10:42

    Oh Maureen, you are too adorable. This posting is one of my favorites…it sounds like fun. I’m so glad you’ve managed to add some carbs to your diet…I was getting worried about that!!! And yeah, don’t forget to try the baguettes while you’re there. I’ve read some where that they’re pretty good. : )


  2. Dulce
    Feb 08, 2011 @ 02:27:40

    Ok, when you return stateside I’m expecting an invitation to your version of La Chandeleur celebration for us poor souls who were not able to experience it in France!! Jour des Crepes…start packing your French farine de ble T45 fluide to share with us!!! Love ya 🙂


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