French Délices Part 1: The Common Crèpe

Tuesday, June 1st, 2010 | Store-bought, Travel | 1 Comment

I just returned from a wonderful trip to my dessert motherland, France.  This blog cannot possibly express the extent of my insane reverence for the French people’s mastery of sugar and cream.  They have dairy products we don’t even have words for in English, for Pete’s sake!  All I can do is show you some examples of the many delights (or délices) I had along the way.

I begin with the humble crêpe.  Maybe you’ve had one slathered with gel-like “strawberry” sauce at some crêperie in the Lower East Side.  Or you’ve tried a specimen from one of seemingly countless NYC street fairs, or even at the Bastille Day festival put on by the French Institute.  It’s fun to watch them use that little wooden wand to work their magic, isn’t it?  And how wonderful that even the bad ones are pretty good, right?

My favorite crêperie in all the land is Crêpes à Gogo in Aix-en-Provence, a small and chichi college town located just north of Marseille, and my old stomping ground when I studied abroad there.  It’s located in a depressing underground passageway beneath a traffic circle, but they’ve been around since 1979, so they must be doing something right.  They make both savory crêpes (aka galettes) and sweet crêpes:
We began with a forestière galette (ham, swiss cheese, and mushrooms) made with buckwheat flour.  It was plump with filling– a nice amount, but not sickening– and we (perhaps erroneously) felt semi-healthy for getting something with a buckwheat base.  Then we moved on to our lemon and sugar crêpe, made with generous squeezes of a lemon wedge (not that bottled stuff) and lots of sugar.  Yes, you can get Nutella and whipped cream, but the simplicity (not to mention caloric savings) of lemon and sugar are heavenly.  The secret seems to be in the repeated application of toppings after each fold of the crêpe.  Our crêpe was warm, moist, refreshing, sweet, springy, and light.  It was so juicy that the syrup dripped on my purse and leg, and, amazingly, also on my partner’s leg and shoe.  It was pretty windy, but I guess I must chalk my messiness up to being in a crêpe daze.  Adieu, perfect crêpes… until we meet again.

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