It's that time of the year again in France: on the 2nd of February, French people celebrate "la Chandeleur". Time to make some (delicious) crêpes! But where does the Chandeleur come from? Most importantly, how to make good crêpes?
What is "la Chandeleur" (Candlemas)?
Now attached to the catholic religion, it is believed that the Chandeleur used to be a pagan celebration. It marked the beginning of the end of winter and celebrated the fertility of the earth. We can find many different stories as to how the candles became a symbol of the Chandeleur. Some say that during the Roman times, it was a celebration of the god named Pan where the poeple wandered around the city waving torches, others say that candles had to be lit up at midnight as a symbol of purification...
In the 5th century, the Pope Gelasius 1 claimed that celebration and made it mark the 40th day since Jesus' birth and his introduction to the temple. As a result, candlelit processions appear and the people were asked to bring lit candles to the churches.
Ok, great, but what about the crêpes ?
Just like the origins of the Chandeleur, the meaning of the "crêpes" got several theories. In the pagan times, crêpes would symbolise the sun, hence winter coming to an end. Under the Pope Gelasius I, "galettes" (kind of savoury crêpes) were given to pilgrims arriving in Rome for the celebration. Finally, another theory states that this time of the year marked the end of winter harvest, and excess of flour would be used to make crêpes, symbol of a fruitful harvest.
How to make good crêpes ?
Aaaah you greedy sweet tooth! This post wouldn't be complete without a recipe. Here we go, here is an example of a recipe found in my mother's personal cookbook (shhhh):
- 250g flour
- 3 eggs
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 cups milk
- 2 tbsp oil (neutral)
- and the secret ingredient: a ladle of dark rhum
1. In a bowl, mix the milk, the vanilla and the eggs together
2. In bigger bowl, mix the flour and the baking powder
3. Add the liquid mixture (milk, vanilla, eggs) bits by bits to the flour
4. Between each bit, mix gently to create a homogeneous dough
5. Once you added all the liquid, add the oil and the rhum then stir again
6. Let it rest a few hours, then flip them all on the pan!
This is one recipe among others. Some people add butter instead of oil, others add a bit of beer for a lighter dough, others also add orange blossom extract instead of vanilla. It's really up to you and your preferences!
Bon Appétit !