One can’t deny that the French seem to have a flair for the essence of elegance. Nearly every national cuisine has a close relative of the thin French flatbread known as the crêpe. None have imbued theirs with the élan of their christening as do the French. The Dutch have pannekoeken; the German their pfankuchen; the Russians call their version the blini; in Mexico there are tortilla, sopes and tostadas; and the Spanish dubbed theirs frixuelos. On the subcontinent of India the crêpe is known as dosas; in China it’s called popiah; Korean named theirs memileon and the Vietnamese identify their entry as khao phan. There are several varieties in Italy including manicotti and, the grandfather of the pizza, borlengo. But for the sheer number of names, one must turn to English where we have pancakes, griddlecakes, hotcakes, flannel cakes, flapjacks, bannock and Johnny or Jonny cakes.
This entire family of pliable, warm, edible disks is made with some form of flour, milk and eggs. Depending on the country, the family and possibly the filling, all are commonly served for breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert. It is doubtful that anyone would quibble with eating it for a snack. Some are rolled, others folded and still others are tucked, stacked, triangulated, rectangulated or squared.
Perhaps some naysayer once claimed crêpes and their kin to be a flash in the pan. In a way, they are just that: a batter poured into a hot, lightly oiled pan and cooked briefly on each side. Art forms have been created based on the turning over of such crêpes, the highest form of which is air-flipping. Air-flipping may be more appealing to risk takers enchanted with the performance than the meal. For the rest of us there is the more pedestrian and more reliable spatula flipping. I confess, I frequently give the spatula a hand, literally, with my fingers. The trick is to get it turned over in one piece. Experiment and have a good time.
A French chef by the name of Charpentier claims to have invented for and served the first Crêpe Suzette to the future English King Edward VII. This royal claim has been disputed, though Charpentier did bring the delicious bit of flaming cloud to the United States, where it has since reigned as one of the most elegant dessert ever created.
Like many things, including its cousin the pancake, crêpe making is easy once you know how. Even master chefs have been known to discard the first one of a batch if for no other reason than to test the heat of the pan. In attempting to escape the humdrum of day-to-day dinners, it is the savory crêpe that has captured my interest. I simply love all the vast variety of filling options and it is a great way to use bits of leftovers too small for another of the original meal. Today’s recipe is for Mushroom Crêpes. Below are the links to two different on line videos about making crêpes. Chef John is a bit more lighthearted, but the Joy of Cooking is always dependable.
Joy of Cooking video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeuN9CcmMyw
Chef John: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C1DgmbMMOgA