A crêpe or crepe is a type of very thin pancake, usually made from wheat flour (crêpes de froment) or buckwheat flour (galettes). The word is of French origin, deriving from the Latin crispa, meaning “curled”. While crêpes are often associated with Brittany, a region in the northwest of France, their consumption is widespread in France, Belgium, Quebec and many parts of Europe, North Africa and the Southern Cone of South America. Crêpes are served with a variety of fillings, from the simplest with only sugar to flambéed crêpes Suzette or elaborate savoury galettes.
Crêpes are made by pouring a wheat batter onto a frying pan or flat circular hot plate, often with a trace of butter or vegetable oil on the pan’s surface. The batter is spread evenly over the cooking surface of the pan or plate either by tilting the pan or by distributing the batter with an offset spatula or trowel. The consistency of the batter should not be too thick, nor should the pan be too hot. In either of these instances, the crêpe could be ruined with lumpiness or tears. Cooking may take 30 to 60 seconds until the cooked side looks like the surface of the moon, then it is turned over to cook the other side; one can flip it in the air by swinging the pan.
Because the outside of the crêpe is more attractive, they are typically never served inside out.
Sweet crêpes are generally made with wheat flour, while savory crêpes are made with non-wheat flours such as buckwheat. Batters can also consist of other simple ingredients such as butter, milk, water, eggs, flour, salt, and sugar.
Common savoury fillings for crêpes served for lunch or dinner are cheese, ham, and eggs, ratatouille, mushrooms, artichoke (in certain regions), and various meat products. The fillings are commonly added to the center of the crêpe and served with the edges partially folded over the center.
When sweet, they can be eaten as part of breakfast or as a dessert. They can be filled and topped with various sweet toppings, often including Nutella spread, preserves, sugar (granulated or powdered), maple syrup, lemon juice, whipped cream, fruit spreads, custard, and sliced soft fruits or confiture.
In France, crêpes are traditionally served on Candlemas (La Chandeleur), 2 February. This day was originally Virgin Mary’s Blessing Day, but became known in France as “Le Jour des Crêpes” (literally translated “The Day of the Crêpes”, but sometimes given colloquially as “Avec Crêpe Day” or “National Crêpe Day”), referring to the tradition of offering crêpes. The belief was that if you could catch the crêpe with a frying pan after tossing it in the air with your right hand and holding a gold coin in your left hand, you would become rich that year. The roundness, and golden color from being fried in butter, of the crêpe resembles the sun and its rays. This symbolism also applies to the coin held in the person’s hand.