Pancakes and Chandeleur
You will probably notice that is is rare to see people eating in the street in France; you don't often see anyone scoffing crisps or tucking into a chocolate bar and any pâtisseries bought are carried back home to be eaten there. There are a couple of exceptions including people eating filled baguettes (called a sandwich) at lunchtime and pancakes or crêpes. Crêpes are a favourite fast food snack for the French and there will invariably be a crêpe stall at the market, boot fairs, school events etc.
Now with their love for crêpes you might be forgiven for thinking that France is getting ready extra early for Shrove Tuesday/Mardi Gras with an aisle in most supermarkets, at the moment, put over to pancake pans, flour, sugar, ready made mixes and other ingredients to make this traditional treat. But no, they are in fact not ahead of themselves because in France, Pancake Day is Feb 2nd or Chandeleur, known as Candlemas in the UK. It always falls 40 days after Christmas and the end of the winter festival. In religious terms it is a feast to commemorate the purification of the Virgin Mary and the presentation of baby Jesus (I am not sure who to, mind you!).
Chandeleur may be based in religion but it now comes with its fair share of tradition and fortune telling. For example, you are supposed to hold a coin in your writing hand and flip the pancake with your other and if this is successful you and your family will be prosperous for the year to come.
There are also weather sayings relating to Chandeleur:
Chandeleur couverte, quarante jours de perte
If Candlemas is covered in snow 40 days will be lost (presumably meaning the snow will hang around for well over a month.
On the other hand:
Rosée à la Chandeleur, hiver à sa dernière heure
If there is dew on Candlemas, winter has its final hour - and one would hope to see an early Spring.
A quick look at our weather forecast reveals Feb 2nd 2016 is due to be .... showers with sunny intervals!!
Back to crêpes. Street crêpes are usually eaten either nature (ie plain) or with sugar or jam (often strawberry, myrtille (blueberry) or apricot) or Nutella. Often people will buy a pile of "crêpes natures" to take home and fill as they want. Most French however do not eat their pancakes with lemon and sugar as the British like.
As well as crêpe stalls many towns have a crêperie and here you'll be offered a wonderful array of crêpes for dessert with fruit, ice cream, cream chocolate sauce and chantilly cream all popular additions. A typical Normandy crêpe will be served with some form of poached apples, ice cream or cream, salted caramel sauce and flambéed with Calvados. Mmmmm - delicious!
Savoury crêpes or galettes are also popular but I shall save these delights for another blog post.
Do you like pancakes or crêpes. If so why not help celebrate Chandeleur this year with your favourite filling and let us know what that is.
Why not pin me?