Everybody loves a good crepe. They are light, yet robust in flavor, and while they may seem quite innocuous, the simple dish actually may belie a more complex history.
CREPES: In the Beginning
A crepe, obviously, is a very thin, cooked pancake typically made from wheat flour. Obviously, the word is of French origin (as is its cousin, the “pancake”) and it derives form the Latin term “crispa” which means “curled.” The term was first used in Brittany—a region of northwestern France—but, of course, the dish has become widely synonymous with French cuisine; it is actually considered the national dish of France. At the same time, however, the crepe is common to many other regions of the world.
The Cultural Phenomenon
While the crepe is definitely a French food, you can find foods similar to it all over the world. Of course, in North America, the crepe is known to be quite sweet, filled with fruit—like strawberries—and topped with whipped cream; but this version actually came to North America via Southwest Asia. This preparation also spread to Eastern Europe, which is the birthplace of a similar item, known as the blintz (basically a thin-cooked pancake, rolled up, and containing cheese).
Other cultural iterations of the crepe include:
- Crepsella (Italy)
- Palacsinta (Hungary)
- Palaèinka (Bosnia, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia)
- Palacinka (Slovakia)
- Palatschinken (Austria)
- clãtitã (Romania)
- Pandekage (Dutch)
- Pfannkuchen (Germany)
- Fililoa (Galicia region of Spain)
How To Prepare A Crepe
To make a Ben & Florentine franchises crepe, you simply make a batter—basically, a pancake batter (flour, milke, eggs, butter, salt)—and pour a thin layer onto a hot frying pan. The cooking time should be very short and will probably not even require flipping of the batter. Also, a flat, circular hot plate can be used; and typically the pan has already been greased with butter.
Just as there are many different ways that cultural cuisines present their breakfasts, each of these regions prepares their crepes differently. Of course, in the West, the sweet, rolled-up, fruit-filled, whipped-cream-topped, thin pancake is the go-to. However, in Spain you might find it made with pork blood instead of milk. Similarly, in the Balkan regions, the dish might be served with fruit jam and feta cheese or could contain honey or even the popular hazelnut-chocolate cream known as Nutella.