Candles and Crêpes
Many culinary traditions in Europe originated in connection with religious feasts… not least because in times where ordinary people were not lucky enough to eat well on a daily basis, special treats were reserved for special days. The feast of the Chandeleur is a well established tradition in France and, whatever its origins, nowadays it is best known for being a sort of "national day of crêpes".
During the month of February, ancient Romans held several religious festivals (Lupercalia being the most notable one) for the purification of the city and to invoke prosperity and protection for its inhabitants: all night long, Roman citizens would stream around the city with torches and candles and a special cake (mola salsa) was prepared to propitiate the gods. Christians appropriated this holiday in the 5th century and transformed it into Chandeleur, the feast of the light, that falls on February 2, that is 40 days after Christmas day, to commemorate Jesus’s presentation at the Temple in Jerusalem. As in ancient Rome, the feast is characterized by the traditional candlelight processional.
In modern France, this holiday is mainly associated with crêpes. Some say that it is in connection with the pagan custom of handing out spelt focaccias during religious celebrations. According to others, it is a way to celebrate the fact that winter is coming to a close, and with the winter seed-time starting off there is a surplus of flour put to use with this delicacy, typical of Bretagne, a region of north-west France.
If you happen to be in Paris and want to taste the best, original crêpes you must make a detour to the neighborhood around Gare Montparnasse. When the Paris-Brest railway took service, at the end of the 19th century, flocks of Bretons traveled to the capital looking for work. Poorly skilled, hardly speaking any French, they were the perfect workforce for the Public Works department that was digging giant underground tunnels for the Paris Metro. They settled in the area just outside the train station which turned into a "Petite Bretagne": here, they tried to continue living according to their customs (and using their wonderful traditional costumes!) and speak their native language, Breizh, which had officially been banned by the French government in an effort to promote assimilation (and remained banned until the 1960s. In local schools, signs were posted saying " It is forbidden to speak Breton and to spit on the floor") and obviously popularized the tradition of crêpes, savory or sweet.
Nowadays, Bretons are obviously scattered throughout the French capital, but the best crêperies are still concentrated in the area of the Gare Montparnasse.
One last tip: if you want to follow the tradition, don't forget that the first crêpe that you make should be flipped multiple times while holding a coin in your free hand: apparently, this simple exercise in coordination can ward off bad luck for the year just begun and bring happiness and prosperity to the household.
With Marlette you can have authentic French crêpes anytime, that's so easy. And they are organic and super healthy (a mix of T80 flour and spelt flour). For 15 crêpes you just need 3 eggs, 1/3 cup of butter and 2 cups of milk and ...
1- Pour the contents of the baking mix into a large bowl. Add the melted butter, the milk and the eggs and mix to combine.
2- Set aside for 30 min
3- In a frying pan, cook your crêpes until both sides are slightly golden brown
There are so many ways to enjoy them .... "beurre sucre citron" (butter, sugar and lemon) is a classic, a winner.