Oh, Crêpe!

by S.W.Kirch

Accidents happen. And that – according to folklore – is exactly how the first crêpe came to be. Sometime during the 12th century A.D., in the rocky outcroppings of northern France, known as Brittany, a housewife spilled some porridge onto the hot surface of her kitchen hearth. Instead of wasting the result, she and her family ate it, and: Voilà! The first crêpe was born.

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Let’s Start at the Very Beginning

Its main ingredient, buckwheat, was unique. Since regular wheat just wouldn’t take to the harsher climate of the region, the fifth-century Celtic war refugees from Britain – who’d fled their homeland in the wake of hostile invading tribes – ate staples of mainly oats, rye or barley. Fast forward several hundred years to when the marauding Crusaders returned to Europe from the Middle East, and this new grain-like food source: buckwheat, was introduced to the Bretons. They took to the crop quickly and found that it flourished on their moors. A bit of a misnomer, “buckwheat”, or “sarrasin” in French, is more akin to quinoa than wheat and is naturally gluten-free. It’s a plant protein that’s packed with amino acids, high in fiber, and easily digestible. Often referred to as “Galettes”, these buckwheat crêpes can still be found throughout Brittany. Eventually, the crêpe spread to the rest of France, and beyond; it is quintessentially cross-cultural, just like its Celtic originators.

HamCrepe

The Classic – A Crêpe Everyone Can Enjoy Crispy buckwheat crêpe from Brittany, melted Gruyère & Swiss Emmentaler, jambon de Paris, w/ over-easy fried egg.

Nowadays

Centuries later, Brittany is still considered one of the six Celtic nations, along with Ireland, Gallic Scotland, Cornwall, Isle of Man, and Wales. There are thousands of people in the region, who speak a Celtic dialect, as well as the official French language. They have also kept many of their traditional culinary customs alive. Whenever tourists from other parts of the world travel to the area, they are sure to come across crêpes; the most authentic of which being the “Krampouezh-crêpe”: filled with ham, cheese and a sunny-side-up egg, it can easily be enjoyed as a main meal. Now, in almost every French town, there is a Crêperie, where locals and visitors alike can enjoy sweet or savory ingredients tucked inside the thin, folded, pancake-like dish. Luckily for anyone living or visiting Aspen, Colorado, a taste of Brittany – in its original gluten-free form – can be found at the French Alpine Bistro, La Crêperie du Village.

Looking Forward

Try this famous gluten-free buckwheat crêpe next time you’re in town. You’ll find it on the menu under “The Classic”, along with a recommendation to pair it with another archetypically Breton special: sparkling cider. Then, for dessert, be sure to include the award-winning “Schokoladepalatschinke”, which is a sweet crêpe filled with chocolate ganache, dulce de leche, strawberries, bananas, and whipped cream. No matter your choice of crêpe, any of which can be prepared as gluten-free (along with 90% of our menu), you can look forward to enjoying it in a welcoming dining area, or outside on the cozy patio. By sitting down to eat with friends or family – stories, jokes, and memories can be easily shared and made – and that’s no accident. Bon Appétit!

schokoladepalatschinke

Schokoladepalatschinke – So Popular the Cooking Channel Featured the Recipe! Chocolate crêpe filled w/ chocolate ganache, dulce de leche, strawberries & bananas.