I believe that this time of year is for planning holidays… I can’t blame you really; if you lived in a country like ours, having our fair share of wind, rain and snow that is never really over until the end of March or even April, you’d be thinking of sunnier shores. Saying that, and while you are behind your computer, you might want to check Brittany out; not only you would make an excellent choice of destination, but you will also realise first hand, what global warming is all about… You see, Brittany has been plagued for years with a reputation of a cold, windy and very rainy country… I blame the Parisians. When it is cold and miserable in their beautiful city, I’d rather be on the Atlantic coast and get a full blast of South Westerlies while looking at a demented sea. Sadly, it is no more – or not as much- temperatures have risen, frost and ice are a rare occurrence, there is a vineyard on the outskirts of Quimper, and yes, you might get the odd shower… Sometimes. But this is the least of your problems…. And I want you to be prepared, that’s all!
The storm has come and gone, all is still and quiet, time to get out there. Breakfast is very important to me, but recently I have been diagnosed with I.B.S and I have to give up bread and even coffee. It sucks a bit, but I am of the creative kind, not ready to let this inconvenience affect my favourite meal of the day. Porridge is great; you can mix a lot of things in it, fruits, nuts, even if it looks like a bowl of gruel straight out of a Charles Dickens’ nightmare, it is actually quite enjoyable if you can pass the visual hurdle. Eggs are good too, I love them, scrambled with a bit of cheese, but to be frank, I was missing something. I went back to my origins, where I found an answer in our traditional buckwheat crêpes. This is a quick version as I have to go to work and waking up at 6 am to make breakfast is just not going to happen. You can use this recipe for sweet or savoury, it doesn’t matter.
Ok, a bit of fun today for lunch, it is Friday after all! I am still in my Crêpes buzz, but this time savoury. This way is far from being the traditional way to serve “galettes” but who cares. It will keep for a few days in the fridge and you can use any toppings you want and in the oven it goes! Here we go.
From time to time, we all need a bit of gentle sweetness. For me, childhood food comfort comes in the form of Crêpes, savoury or not, but also apple compote my grandmother used to do by the gallons at this time of year. I brought some back from her garden last month, trees planted over 35 years ago, ideal for a breakfast treat. Here it goes.
One thing is for sure; in Brittany people do not need an excuse to eat crêpes or pancakes. Whatever you want to call them, we actually call them Krampouezh so (pronounce “Krampooz”). We have two types; the crêpes are for dessert and made with wheat flour, the “galettes” are savoury and made with the legendary buckwheat. It is easy enough to find Buckwheat flour if you check your local health food store. I have selected this recipe which is ideal for both sweet and savoury.
My mother’s short enough life didn’t get off to a great start. Thinking about it, it didn’t end like a fairytale either, unless you count some of the Grimm Brothers’ work she loved so much, on technicality it qualifies as one.
Born a couple of years after the end of the Second World War, life was tough for most. Beautifully illustrated in Jacques Prevert’s poem “Barbara”, Brest had been levelled by the allies, as well as Lorient, the city where she was born. Raised by her grandmother, her own mum had gone for a brave fresh start in Paris. To make ends meet, my great Gran made pancakes while my mother would deliver them, on foot or with her bicycle. Sometimes, I believe, people would even come in the kitchen of the small dwelling to enjoy the notorious crêpes. The stories of this small enterprise gave my sister and I great entertainment at bedtime; the little girl, who through hardship by selling crêpes with her grandmother, grew up to become a teacher.
Classic Breton Crêpes
Autumn is trying to come back, pointing its nose through my window. Time for the ultimate comfort food, perfect with the blackberries I gathered at the back of the house … If I have any left, as I can’t stop eating them, I might gently stew a few and pour over my Breton Pan Cakes!