I’ll start with a confession. I spent a lot of my childhood in Brittany with a delightful French family. It did wonders for my French plus fast tracked an ever lasting interest and respect for French cuisine.
Earlier this month I was back in Brittany to two cities I never visited before, Nantes on the Loire river and Rennes to the North.
Brittany is the home to many culinary delights including salted butter, buckwheat, andouille, a type of sausage and of course crêpes.
According to French folklore crêpes were invented in Brittany in the 13th century
Now at this point, in my opinion, there’s a disconnect between French and English. In French there are two distinct words, ‘Crêpe’ and ‘galette’ whilst for many English speakers ‘crêpe’ includes ‘galette’.
Do you know the difference between a Crêpe and a Galette?
Galettes are typically savoury and made using gluten-free buckwheat flour as opposed to regular flour. They are also thicker in texture.
Crêpes by contrast are ultra-thin pancakes that can be made sweet or savoury, typically rolled or folded with a variety of fillings from jam or Nutella to ham and cheese to seafood.
Crêperie in France are very clear on the difference, as seen with this menu.
In Brittany, the Northwesternmost region of France, the climate is damp, which is why buckwheat is typically grown. Hence many crêperie in Brittany use buckwheat as their main ingredient. Some sources I’ve read say that buckwheat crêpes are often referred to as galettes.
Confusing? I think so
What can France do to promote Crêpes’ consumption?
In France there are estimated to be around 4000 crêperie. Is that a big number? Arguably not, there are over 15,000 coffee shops, even McDonalds has nearly 1,500 restaurants in France.
Outside France the number of crêperies drops off considerably.
I think the naming of crêpes is a key factor in their marketing, is it galette or crêpe, and which is easiest to pronounce?
Wandering around Nantes, Rennes and later Paris I started to look for recognisable crêperie chains. I am not going to be so bold as to say that they do not exist. However, whereas what McDonalds or Starbucks are to hamburgers or coffee, there is no one dominant chain. For what it’s worth I only saw independents, and many of these were serving other fare too.
How easy are crêpes to make?
Not difficult in the hands of an expert. Watching one being made (see video), they are labour intensive and timing is clearly critical. There’s also a lot of customisation. So for a relatively low priced item, there’s complexity. It made me wonder how profitable it is to run a crêperie?
What’s the usage occasion for crêpes? Are they desserts or are they a meal, or are they a treat? Most people associate croissants with breakfast. They have a very defined role and purpose, which contributes to their popularity.
Finally, are there many good retail crêpe products you can buy easily and serve at home?