Tuesday, January 30, 2018

La Chandeleur: French Crepe Day

                                                                                                               All Photos CPaul
I've always been fascinated by the way different holidays are celebrated in cultures around world. It seems on almost any given day of the year, there is a festive occasion of some sort going on somewhere . 
 I was delighted to learn recently that throughout France, Candlemas, also known as La Chandeleur or Jour de Lumieres, is traditionally celebrated on February 2nd by the lighting of candles and by eating that french favorite, crepes! Not as familiar stateside, this celebration of La Chandeleur seemed the perfect respite from the lengthy drab winter weeks following fun and frenzied holiday festivities and was a good excuse to try my new crepe pan! (a steal at Homegoods)
 For many Christians, this February date, marks the day Jesus was presented to the Temple in Jerusalem, but the holiday can also be traced much further back to older pagan roots, honoring the eventual return of Spring and longer sunlit filled days.
But why candles and crepes? 
Some say Pope Gelasius established the tradition in the 400's by distributing crepe like treats to pilgrims in Rome during annual candlelit processions. 
The round shape and golden color of crepes was thought to represent the welcoming return of the sun as well as, more practically, a good way to use up surplus flour, a staple that time of year.
I displayed with (flameless) candles and french and Spring inspired props
As someone who loves to enjoy these delicious and very adaptable treats, I have had limited success in making them at home. Sadly, more stacks of rubbery ill-shaped crepes have wound up in the garbage can than on the dinner table. So for my first celebration of Candlemas, I thought I'd attempt one of the easiest recipes I was able to find online at the wonderful blog savorytooth. With a few additions (vanilla and sugar), I was able to whip up some surprisingly tasty, flourless versions of these classic treats.

Wonderful as sweet desserts or savory meals, crepes can be reinvented with endless fillings or toppings from chicken and spinach to chocolate or applesauce.
I opted for sweet toppings for my customizable easy crepe bar including morello cherries in natural syrup, tangy lemon curd and fresh berries. Of course butter, honey and whipped creme are welcome additions as well.
Easy Flourless Crepes
3 eggs
1 oz package cream cheese softened (I used Neuchatel)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or other desired flavor)
2 tablespoons fine sugar

Simply pop ingredients in a blender until smooth. Pour a pancake sized amount onto a warm skillet or crepe pan and swirl until it forms an (almost) even circle. Cook over low-medium heat until golden brown, flipping once. Dot with butter and sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.

Legend says if you hold a coin in one hand and successfully flip the crepe with the other, you will have good luck in the coming year. I admit I didn't attempt this.

Bon Appetite!
For more on Chandeleur click on why-do-the-french-eat-crepes-on-le-chandeleur