Of: ILARIA CASTODEI
Cuisine and Flavors – February 2nd is celebrated the Madonna della Candlemas (from the Latin Candelorum) and churches on this day light up with blessed candles, which are traditionally kept by the faithful; it is a very ancient Christian anniversary that recalls, 40 days after Christmas, the presentation of Jesus in the Temple, “the true light that enlightens the people”, and the ritual purification of the Madonna. It falls precisely in February, because from the Latin februarius (from februare which means purify, expiate) it refers to the festivals of fire and the purifying rites of the month, in which the Romans asked the gods for luck and good harvests.
But Candlemas, like all other anniversaries, is also synonymous with culinary tradition and is linked to the preparation of a delicious and nutritious typical dish with dubious French origins: crepes.
The legend that links crêpes to the French and to the day of Candlemas
It is said that in the 5th century AD, Pope Gelasius I, known for his kindness to the needy, hosted in the Vatican some exhausted and hungry French pilgrims, arrived in Rome for the feast of Candlemas. The Pope, to give them proper refreshment and a hot dish, ordered the cooks to cook something with eggs and flour to give them strength and energy and recover from the long journey. From eggs and flour, the cooks of the Roman Curia were able to obtain pseudo-crespelle, that is, sheets of fried and curled dough very similar to today’s crepes. The French pilgrims loved the dish very much and, returning home, they spread the recipe so much that in the Middle Ages still many were prepared as a sign of celebration, with a dough that was left to rest for the whole night and each family already had its recipe. secret. Crepe in France was therefore associated with the Candlemas festival and the gastronomic tradition also resisted the Revolution French until today.
Over the years the traditional recipe was enriched with other ingredients also creating the renowned Crepe Suzette, which involves the addition of orange sauce and liqueur to the mixture. Even in Italy, at the same time in popular culture, crepes have evolved becoming a gastronomic tradition in some areas, such as the Miacce della Valsesia or the Crespelle del Teramo.
Good omen recipe
And if in Italy the party is of Candlemas in France is named Chandeleur, or the crepes party, and French legend has it that during the preparation of this dish women can make a wish and to make the wish come true they should hold a gold coin in the right hand and turn the crepe in a pan with the left. Between one legend and another today, crepes are always served on the occasion of Candlemas as symbol of good wishes.
The Candlemas crêpes recipe
On February 2nd it was listed by the Italian Food Calendar as the national day of crepes, and even if France and Italy have always contended for its paternity, on this day it is customary to prepare mountains of crepes and dress them in the most varied ways. It is a very simple recipe and just as easy it is to garnish them both in the savory and sweet versions.
Ingredients for 8 crepes:
• 250 g of flour
• 4 eggs
• 500 ml of milk
• 1 pinch of salt
• a teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil
Pour the flour and eggs into a bowl and start working with a whisk. Slowly and little by little add the milk, then the salt and finally the oil, making sure that all the ingredients are incorporated evenly. The mixture should be liquid, but consistent and without lumps. Cover with cling film and leave to rest in the fridge for at least 3-4 hours. After laying, stir well before cooking. Use a non-stick pan, grease it with a little butter and heat it well over medium heat. Pour about a ladle of batter over the pan, swirling the pan so that it is distributed evenly over the entire surface. Turn the crepe on the other side for a few minutes. As soon as it is golden on both sides, remove it from the heat by placing it on a plate and repeat the operation with the rest of the mixture.
Sweet and savory toppings
At the end you can garnish the crepes by filling them with sweet toppings such as creams, jams, chocolate sauces, cream, butter and sugar or liqueur. Not to mention the delicious and widespread Nutella crepe.
Or with salty ingredients such as ham and mozzarella, spreadable cheese and salmon, sautéed mushrooms and rocket, ricotta and spinach, gorgonzola and radicchio, the classic French recipe ham, mushrooms and cheese, ricotta and asparagus, zucchini and shrimp, raw ham and cabbage, cheese and aromatic herbs… and so on and so forth, imagination is the master in the kitchen with crepes.
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