Saturday, May 30, 2020

Crepes, Galettes, Gaufres, Mille Crepes, Pannequets and more.

Behind the French Menu
Bryan G. Newman 

Enjoying her first taste of French street food
Crêpes are a summer favorite

Is it true that:
A crêpe is a pancake?
A galette is a wafer?
A gaufre is a waffle?

The French-English dictionary on your PC or mobile may well tell you that a crêpe is a pancake, a galette is a wafer, and a gaufre is a waffle. However, as you have probably already discovered few French chefs pay much attention to French-English dictionaries. This post will show you the most popular variations and names found for crêpes and their family members on French menus.

The French did not invent the crepe, but they certainly have created hundreds, possibly thousands of recipes for crepes, galettes, gaufres, and other close family members. Crepes and their family may be made from regular wheat flour, potato flour, buckwheat flour, or mixed flours. Crepes will be either thin and quickly cooked or thick like a pancake, baked until crisp like a biscuit or layered with additions and made into a cake. Some variations will serve as casings for vegetables, smoked fish, or other savory additions, while others may be covered in maple syrup (rarely seen in France) or served with fried eggs for breakfast. 

Crêpes au chocolat

In France, crepes will be sold on street corner food-carts covered with Nutella or chocolate spread or served as beautiful desserts in wonderful restaurants. Crepes may be anointed with a fruit sauce, accompanied by fresh fruit, ice cream, and whipped cream, and the much-loved dessert called Crepes Suzette will be flambéed.

On your menu, crepes, galettes, gaufres, and their family members will change their descriptive names at the chef’s whim. Read the menu carefully or ask.
As you travel through France on French menus you may find:
Crepaze  A cake made of crêpes interleaved with fruits or vegetables and baked. This cake differs from a mille crêpe, which is made with many thin pancakes interleaved with fruit, cream, or cheese, but not baked.

Bourriole au Bleu d'Auvergne – This is an Auvergne buckwheat or blended flour, crêpe made with the mellow 45% fat, pasteurized, cow’s milk blue cheese the Bleu d'Auvergne AOP.
Mille Crepe
Mille Crepe- A mille crêpe’s name has the same roots as a Millefeuille, a pastry made with interleaved layers of pâte feuilletée and fruit, vegetables or pastry cream.

Crêpe à la Farine de Châtaigne Corse AOP - A crêpe made with the AOP chestnut flour from Corsica. Chestnut flour will be used in many crêpes, gaufre, and galettes.
Crêpe à la Farine de Châtaigne Corse Fourrée au Brocciu - A crêpe made with the Corsican AOP chestnut flour stuffed with the Brocciu Corsican cheese. Forests cover close to one-quarter of France, and more than 25% of them are chestnut forests. The chestnuts from the forests of Corsica produce the top rated chestnut flour in France; the only chestnut flour with an AOP. The Corsican Brocciu AOC/AOP cheese used in the menu listing above is a soft sheep’s or goat’s cheese. This Brocciu cheese is one of the few cases where an AOP cheese may be made with the milk from more than one animal. Brocciu is made from the whey, and for a cheese made with whey, it has a surprisingly high-fat content of 40%; the high-fat content of Brocciu is explained by as much as 20% whole milk being added to the whey.  (The only AOP chestnuts in France come from the department of Ardèche situated in the region of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes).
Crêpe Sucrées - Dessert crêpes. These are made with many recipes; some use egg yolks, some whole eggs; all use milksome add light-cream, and most will be thin.
Nearly all crêpe sucrées will be part of a dessert.
Crêpe Sucrées
Crêpes au Coulis de Fruits Rouge – Crêpes served with a thick fruit sauce. Depending on the season the fruits may include berries such as bluets, bilberries; baie de Genièvre, juniper berries; sureau, elderberries, and other fruits such as fraise, strawberries, and cherries.  Out of season, the sauce may be made with added peaches and apricots and while these last two are not red fruits they are often called to the banner.
Crêpes Suzette - Crêpes Suzette - Thin crêpe sucrées prepared in a sauce made fresh orange juice flavored with a combination of liquors.  Crêpes Suzette plays an important part in the culinary stories of France, and it has its own post. That post tells the story of the Prince of Wales and the Chef Henri Charpentier.

Crepes Suzette Flambée
Crêpes Salées Savory crepes. These may be made the same way as sweet crepes but the additions will be vegetables, ham, or chicken. Some savory crepes will be made with chestnut or buckwheat flour.
Crêpes Américaine also called Pancakes Americaine - On some French menus. American pancakes are much thicker than crepes, and they contain baking soda to help them rise. Crepe batter is allowed to rest before using, and that results in thinner crepes.
American pancakes with maple syrup 
Sirop d'érable, maple syrup, is only rarely seen accompanying crêpes in France.
Nevertheless, in the cities with many tourists, 
you may find American pancakes and maple syrup.
Crêpes au Saumon Fumée et Fromage Frais  - A crepe filled with smoked salmon and fresh white cheese.

Crêpes Parmentier, Galette de Pommes de Terre, or Crêpes de Pomme de Terre Potato pancakes made with grated potatoes, onions, and eggs. These potato pancakes come in all sizes and are all very similar to Swiss Röstis and Jewish Latkes.(Swiss Röstis themselves come with different recipes though potatoes are always at their heart.  The most famous röstis are the röstis bernois named after the City of Bern). 
Swiss Rostis
Ficelle Picarde   A crêpe from the historical region of Picardy (Picardie), in north-western France. The Ficelle Picarde is a crêpe stuffed with mushrooms and ham.  The finished crêpe is baked in a béchamel sauce with gruyere cheese and served gratinée. The old region of Picardie includes the departments of Somme, Aisne, and Oise and is now part of the new administrative region of Haute de France.
Galettes Galettes began as thicker crepes and crepes made with buckwheat flour; however, the usage of the word galettes and their recipes are not written in stone.

Galette Bretonne, also called a Galette Complète’– A traditional pancake from Brittany made with the local buckwheat flour, its blé noir, black flour, is also called the farine de sarrasin, the flour of the Saracens. A Galette Bretonne may be served with a variety of garnishes though the most traditional would be salted butter, fried eggs, ham, and grated French Gruyere cheese.  I was reminded that when you dine on galettes in Brittany expect to find cider on the menu as well. Normandy and Brittany make sparkling ciders that are recognized as among the best in France and will often replace Champagne at local celebrations.

A Galette Bretonne or Galette complète,
Accompanied by a small cup called a bolee, it looks like a small teacup in this photograph and contains 220ml of Brittany cider.
The small jug is a refill and also contains 220ml

Galette de Pommes de Terre- see Crêpes Parmentier,
Galette du Paludier – This is not a member of the crêpe family. It is a creamy goat’s milk cheese. The cheese is made in flattened circles that weigh approximately 90 grams, so its shape is like a thick crepe, a galette. The Galette du Paludier is a goat’s milk cheese aged on a bed of the coastal plant called samphire or salicorne. This cheese is only made close to the coast, near Guérande in the department of Loire-Atlantique and the nearby island of Noirmoutier in the department of Vendée. Guérande is just 80 km (50 miles) from the regional capital of the Loire-Atlantique, the beautiful City of Nantes).

Gaufres – Waffles.

Like French fries there are arguments among the French and the Belgians about ownership of the original gaufre recipe.  Recipes for gaufres are found in French literature over 600 years ago and there are many modern recipes for gaufres that are undoubtedly French.  However, gaufres come in many variations, some may be Belgian with some may be as thin as a crepe while others maybe 3cm (1 1/4”) thick. Particularly famous varieties of completely French gaufres include the Gaufre Meert and the Gaufres Etoile.

Gaufre Belge - The Belgium waffle, by tradition, it is nearly always served with whipped cream, the strawberries are extra.

A French friend disputes the history of the Belgian Waffle claiming its format for France, and he is sure that the source of the confusion dates back to the 1960s.  Then many Britons visiting the Continent used to cross the Channel to Ostend, Belgium by ferry and then almost immediately traveling onwards to France, a mere 40 minutes to the border. The reason for the popularity of the UK-Belgium route was simply because ferry boats from the UK were much cheaper. In Belgium, the arriving Brits who stopped for lunch or tea found a particular type of gaufre that they liked and named it the Belgian waffle. 

The above UK - France route may have been true for many visitors but I know that my grandparents used to cross the Channel to Ostend, Belgium at least once a year. That was for the sand, the sun, the excellent cuisine, and of course the famous Ostend, Belgium casino.  While I was not allowed in the casino I was, in 1958, invited along.  In Ostend, I spent my evenings cycling the streets on a rented bicycle in the company of other likewise outfitted underage compatriots. All of us had been dragged along by relatives who spent the day on the beach and the night in the casino; few ever made it to France. A side-effect of this trip to Belgium was my early introduction to some excellent Belgian versions of French cuisine.

Belgian waffle
Gaufres Liégeoises –– A Belgian waffle made with brioche dough, Liège is the French-speaking city in Belgium that gave its name to this waffle.

A Gaufres Belge with fruit and Creme Chantilly.
Photograph by elenathewise/

Gaufrettes - On a menu or in a store these are usually wafers.   
Pannequets – Small crêpes, rolled or folded over with savory or sweet fillings. It may seem unnecessary to have yet another word for crêpes or galettes, but in this case, the term describes how the crêpes will be served.
        Pannequets aux Fraises  – Crêpes wrapped around a strawberry filling.
Pannequets with lemon & cherry filling and chocolate sauce.
Sanciaux  Another traditional name for crêpes or galettes. Sanciaux will be on the menu with a variety of recipes in a number of France's régions.
Socca or Socca Niçoise - Crêpes and or donuts from in and around the City of Nice on France’s Mediterranean coast; these are made with farine de pois chiche, chick-pea flour.

Crêperie - A crêpe bar; a pancake bar.
A crêperie is a particular French institution and maybe a street-side kiosk or a full-service café-restaurant. Those crêperies that are café-restaurants have the central part of their menus built around savory crêpes for the main course and sweet crêpes for desserts. 

Along with crepes, many crêperies offer popular local dishes as well. When traveling close to the coast in Normandy you will find crêperies offer moules et frites, mussels and French fries, alongside their crepe menus. Then in a Savoie creperie, you may be offered an Assiette de Charcuterie Savoyard, a traditional Savoy plate of cold meats and pickles. On a visit to the Camargue, in the town of Saintes-Maries-de-la-Mer on the Mediterranean coast, a creperie offered a Friture de Poissons de Roche, locally caught, tiny deep-fried fish. Most crêperies offer inexpensive fixed-price menus, a local house wine, coffee, and ice-cream as well as children’s menus which include French fries and ketchup.
All roads lead to the Crêperie Avel-Mor

Crepes in the language of France’s neighbors:
(Catalan – crespó), (Dutch - pannenkoek), (German- pfannkuchen), (Italian: crespo), (Spanish: crespón, crepé).

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Bryan G. Newman

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