I watched a French movie lately that I just can’t keep quiet about. Having told the story to at least a dozen people, I thought I would let you know about it, dear reader, in the event you’re a fan of French humor. Last weekend, my friend, Violette, who is originally from Lille suggested we go see Bienvenue Chez Les Ch’tis, a comedy highlighting the cultural and linguistic differences of the ch’tis or ch’timis, the people of Northern France—where V. is from—who speak a patois (a dialect) that their compatriots from other regions often cannot understand.
V. and I sat in the back row of the tiered chairs in the main lobby of the Alliance Française. We giggled the entire time, like two teenage girls unable to control their laughter despite the teacher’s obvious disapproval, as we commented on every other scene in the silence of the room, ignoring the rest of the audience; her explaining patois words, and me laughing for the second time after I understood the scene a little better. By the end of the movie, though, I was able to understand with much more ease—especially after getting used to the c being pronounced sh, and the ch pronounced k as in “mershi” for merci and “kien” for chien.
The movie was preceded by un diner à la fortune du pot, a potluck dinner for which I had made des galettes de sarrasin, buckwheat crêpes. After the crêpes were ready, Maya, John and I all had a taste by devouring a crêpe each. Well, that left us with five or six crêpes at the most, which I thought were too few to take to an event where at least fifteen to twenty people were going to be present. V. and I promised to each make something to nibble on with coffee when we meet after work the following week. As we sat in the drafty terrace of a dimly lit café, chatting about everything and nothing, we simultaneously opened the crinkly foil to unveil two quintessential French specialties. V. made a galette des rois and I made the same galettes de sarrasin I promised her the week before.
Crêpes are probably one of the very first desserts I’ve made. My mother made them quite often, but I must admit that I have not had buckwheat crêpes until I moved to the US, where I had them at a small family-owned French restaurant in Sarasota. They served them for lunch with ground beef or chicken. Buckwheat crêpes are often made with savory fillings. Their nutty flavor goes well with all types of cheeses, especially strong ones. I made mine sweet, with a simple filling of sliced bananas and a generous drizzle of honey. They came out thin but not paper thin, with a beautiful lacy trim and freckled surface. They were just adorable—if crêpes can be described as such. Even V., my French food expert friend thought they were.
Violette and I made our coffee treats slightly out of season. La galette des rois is made by the French during Epiphany, which has just passed. Buckwheat crêpes are made for Mardi Gras, which isn’t here yet. It is coming up, though; and it wouldn’t hurt to have the recipe a little bit beforehand.
Makes 8 to 10 crêpes
½ cup buckwheat flour
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 pinches sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted, plus more for the pan
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup milk
In a medium bowl, combine the flours, salt and sugar. Add the eggs, melted butter, vanilla extract and milk. Whisk energetically until the batter is well combined and shiny. Cover and refrigerate overnight or at least a few hours (I refrigerated mine for about 2 hours).
Remove the batter from the fridge and give it a brisk whisk. Heat a crêpe pan or small non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Melt a small amount (about 1 tablespoon) of butter and spread it on the surface of the skillet using a brush or silicon spatula. Wipe the butter from the pan using a peper towel. Pour a small ladle of batter into the pan and spread it evenly by moving the pan lightly to obtain a nice circular shape, and fry the crêpe for about 1 minute before turning it over using a spatula. Cook the other side for about 30 seconds.
Repeat the same operation to make the rest of the crêpes.
Drizzle the crêpe with honey. Add the sliced bananas. Fold the crêpe and drizzle with more honey.