(Once again I bring you a recipe from Vero's stock of sweet things… as well as a bit of weird French culture:-))
Last Thursday was the “Chandeleur”, a French festival of Catholic origin that's celebrated each February 2nd (US-Americans and Canadians will recognise this date as Groundhog day… and there are indeed connections between the two.) Chandeleur commemorates the day when Baby Jesus was presented in the temple, 40 days after his birth. It also celebrates the purification of his mother, Mary. When Joseph and Mary arrived at the temple, Saint Simeon is said to have welcomed them by proclaiming that the baby was the “Light of the World”.
The name, Chandeleur, comes from the Latin “candelorum festum” which means festival of candles (hence it's also called Candlemas). Since the 7th century the day has been celebrated by a procession of the faithful holding lit tapers. The candles are blessed and lit at the church and the participants carry the candle home without the flame dying. This will assure a rich harvest and prosperity for the rest of the year.
It is also the custom to prepare and eat crêpes [exactly: eat something… finally we arrive at what is really dear to the French soul — Thomas] at the Chandeleur and all through the Mardi Gras (Shrove Tuesday) season. Why this particular day? It's all shrouded in mystery but many sources mention Pope Gelasius I who helped establish Chandeleur and whose custom it was to feed crêpes to the pilgrims who visited his church. The form and colour of the crêpes also calls to mind the sun which is returning after its winter sleep.
But it's not enough to just munch the crêpes, there are a few things you have to do as well:
- While preparing the first crêpe, hold a gold coin in one hand and with the other, flip the crêpe… and catch it with the pan. If successful, you are assured to have money, health and luck during the next year!
- Another tradition was to flip the crêpe and have it land on the top of a cupboard. If it stuck there, you would leave it until the next Chandeleur, this would ensure a good harvest for the coming year. Don't ask me why but people nowadays tend to skip this one… [if you do it, though, we would very much appreciate a photo — Thomas].
So here you go (for 12 to 15 crêpes):
- 250 gr flour
- 0.5 l of milk (or, for “lighter” crêpes, 0.25 l of milk and water respectively)
- two eggs
- a soup spoon of sugar (or, even better, what the French call sucre vanillé: sugar mixed with vanilla extract)
- a pinch of salt
- a tea spoon of cooking oil
- flavouring: rum, vanilla, lemon, orange, etc.
Pour the flour in a bowl, break the eggs and mix énergiquement. Gradually add the milk, then sugar, salt, oil and flavouring. Mix the whole until it forms a somewhat liquid and smooth dough (the smoothness is very important: no lumps).
Let the dough rest for at least one hour.
Grease a small pan (~22 cm) and heat to a very high temperature. Pour half a ladle of dough and fry for three minutes. Flip the crêpe when it detaches from the bottom.
Eat the crêpes with jam, maple syrup, Nutella, sugar, crème de marron… in short everything that will wreck your diet.
$updated from: Chandeleur.htxt Sat 18 Jan 2014 13:14:24 thomasl (By Thomas Lauer)$