How the French serve their crepes for Candlemas or “Chandeleur”05-02-2018
The equivalent of Candlemas day, this French feast day celebrates the end of unfortunate times, and what better way to do this than with crepes! Let’s hope it works…
La Chandeleur – formerly known as “Chandeleuse”, the feast of candles or the celebration of the Hyperpante – is a tradition that dates back to the Middle Ages. Prior to becoming a Christian celebration, the feast day originally centred on the god Pan, whose contemporaries at the time honoured him by waving flaming torches. This rite of passage at the end of winter celebrated fertility and purification. It marks the transition from winter to warmer days and the arrival of sunshine, which this year will be particularly welcome. It also marks longer days and future prosperity. The crepe is the perfect symbol of sunnier times!
The golden coin
Custom has it that the first crepe was flipped with the right hand while holding a golden coin – a Louis d’Or* – in the left. In the Middle Ages, pagans carried out this ritual which was supposed to bring riches and prosperity throughout the year. The golden coin was wrapped in the first crepe, which was then passed from each family member, then placed on top of a tall cupboard until the following year. The coin was intended as a gift for the first person in need who came to the door.
France’s favourite crepes
As Candlemas approaches, other than a special pancake pan or “billig” (special flat plate used in France), toppings are a must and there are many to choose from. According to a recent survey*, crepes topped with sugar are the nation’s favourite choice. Next up, crepes with jam, with strawberry, raspberry and apricot occupying the top 3 flavours. France’s third favourite topping is chocolate spread, to keep the children happy. Then salted butter, and finally, melted chocolate with chopped banana and Chantilly. That’s quite a menu!
Crepe roll : an original recipe from Brittany
To celebrate Candlemas, classic crepe recipes always go down a treat, but why not try a few more innovative suggestions to spice things up a little. Every year in France, new recipes appear in crepes restaurants up and down the country. Here’s one from Brittany, the birthplace of the French crepe, where its popularity never wanes. This recipe owes its originality to its savoury taste:
- – 2 small tins of tuna
- – fresh mint
- – fresh chives
- – ½ onion
- – salted butter
- – 3 tomatoes
- – 9 eggs
- – 2 tbsp fromage frais
- – readymade buckwheat crepes or « galettes »
- – 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- – 2 tbsp rapeseed oil
Start by making a tuna spread. Mash the tuna in a salad bowl together with the fromage blanc, finely chopped onion, mint and chives. You can also add lemon juice to taste.
Next the crepes. Beat three eggs using a fork and add salt and pepper. Warm a frying pan and melt a generous knob of butter. Add the egg mixture, and over a high, allow the egg to cook, then turn down the heat. Repeat to make three crepes. Set aside.
You are now ready to stack the crepes, buckwheat galettes and tuna spread, alternating each time. Once you have a neat pile, roll the outside edge carefully to make a tight cylinder shape, wrap carefully in cling film and place in the fridge for 30 mins.
Meanwhile prepare the tomato tartare. Cut the tomatoes into small cubes and season with the oil, cider vinegar, a few chives, salt and pepper. Remove the pancake roll from the fridge and take out of the cling film. Transfer to a serving plate, cut into 4 slices and serve with the tomato tartare. Bon appetit!
* The Louis is a French coin first introduced by Louis XIII in 1640, with a portrait of King Louis on one side of the coin, hence the name.
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