What is a Crepe?
Crepes appear to have risen to prominence in American cuisine relatively lately, owing to their adaptability. Crepes can be enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, dinner or dessert. They can be found in restaurants, food trucks, street fairs, festivals, and farmer markets. But what are crepes? Where are crepes from? And how can you make them at home?
Real Crepes from Brittany, France
Brittany, France is the world culinary capital for crepe making. Know-how, recipes past down from generation to generation, superior buckwheat, and mind-blowing butter all help make Brittany the standard bearer for world's best crepes.
It was in the 13th century that the crêpe first appeared in Brittany. Buckwheat, brought back to France after the Crusades, made it possible to make this thin round layer of dough and cook it by the fire. This is the start of the real Breton crepe!
Not to be confused with a pancake, Breton crepes (krampouezh in Breton language) are thin and crispy, and can be either served with savory or sweet add-ons.
What is Buckwheat?
Buckwheat actually has nothing to do with grains or cereals: it is a plant whose white flowers turn into black, triangular seeds when ripe. It is also called the '100-day plant' in reference to its three-month cultivation. Sensitive to temperature variations, it requires a temperate climate - hence its extraordinary development in Brittany.
Buckwheat found a suitable home in Brittany because of the climate of the region and the quality of the soil helping crepes become a staple of Breton diets.
Buckwheat is a Breton tradition, sown in May to be harvested from September to October and belongs to the polygonaceae family like sorrel and rhubarb.
Buckwheat does not contain gluten and is a fan favorite of those that follow gluten-free diets.
Its nutritional qualities contain vegetable proteins, essential amino acids, calcium and fibers galore which makes it a very healthy food.
What is a Billig?
If you travel to Brittany, France you can visit one of the 1,800 Crêperies (crepes restaurants) of the region.
But if you want to try making crepes at home you can make them in a pan or a billig.
Tradition Breton crepes are made on a billig. They are a thick circular cast iron plate about forty centimeters in diameter. If you are looking for a electric or gas one, look for one made in Brittany by Krampouz.