When many people think of French food, the first thing that comes to mind is the crepe. While these are not the only quintessentially French food, the simple crepe is so versatile that it demands a certain amount of attention. The origin of the crepe is most often thought to be from the French province of Brittany in the northwestern region of the country. It is not uncommon to find creperies where the servers are dressed in traditional Breton garb.
Basically there are two different types of crepes: sweet and savory. While the filling is important, it is the crepe itself that makes the difference between the two types.
The savory crepe is often referred to as a galette, created with buckwheat flour. In France it is referred to as ble noir or farine a sarrasin. It is believed that this buckwheat was brought back from the Middle East by the Crusaders, and it adapted well to the soil and weather conditions of Brittany. It makes a heartier crepe that is the perfect base for whatever you would like to fill it with. It also has a different texture, since there is no gluten in buckwheat flour.
In Brittany the traditional filling is ham and eggs. According to legend, the crepe was the first fast food, and enterprenures as early as the 15th century would sell their savory cakes to the happy locals at markets. The color of a buckwheat crepe is not as light as the sweet crepe; it is a nut-like color and has a somewhat nutty taste as well. It is not unusual for creperies to mix wheat flour in as well to get a lighter crepe.
It was the heartiness of the galette, which, according to the same stories, led to the development of the sweet crepe. After eating a hearty savory crepe, diners were looking for a little something to finish their meal, enter the dessert crepe. Sweet crepes are made with wheat flour and because of the gluten have a lighter texture that lends itself well to being a dessert.
A sweet crepe can be as simple as just a crepe and butter with a little sugar or maple syrup, or may include the addition of just about any fruit or liquor. Chocolate is not uncommon as a filling either. Crepes Suzette are what many people think of when they think of a dessert crepe but this is just one of many, many options.
Crepes are a perfect base for a great meal. Experiment, make them at home or find a favorite creperie. They can be simple, complex, extravagant or budget friendly; it?s all a matter of what you choose for your filling.