The concept of eating between meals – at least in my area of France, is pretty much unknown, and indeed rather frowned upon. You eat three meals a day and in between you may, though more likely will not, take a coffee or tea, which will not come accompanied with a muffin, scone or slice of banana bread. Snacks are pretty much non-existent, and eating on the street is considered rude, unless it is …crêpe.


Crêperies appear at weekly markets and most fêtes, where the queue to buy is always long. Large crêpes, cooked while you wait, are served fresh and sweet, stuffed with cream Chantilly and chocolate sauce, summer fruits, sugar and lemon or, for a really French taste, smothered with Nutella, the reigning queen of preferred crêpe fillings in France.

France consumes one quarter of the world’s Nutella – about 100million pots per year. Their consumption of this sugar and fat laden spread (its first two ingredients are sugar and palm oil) is an intriguing contradiction, given the strictness of their habitually lean daily diet.

Nonetheless almost all French children’s preferred tartine (toast) topper or crêpe filling features Italy’s famed chocolate and hazelnut spread, even though these two ingredients make up roughly only 1/5th of the total ingredients (hazelnut 13% , cocoa powder 7.4%).

Boulangeries will often have a basket full of freshly made crêpes for sale beside their daily bread selection, and hungry artisans, caught between meals, will grab a few, roll them up and eat them as a snack without additional fillings. At weekend markets, children can be seen running around with half-eaten cold crêpes in hand; seemingly the only snack you can acceptably eat in public.

Crêpes feature particularly on two festival days, Le Chandeluer February 2nd that marks the rising of the sun from its winter slumber and, Mardi Gras, or fat Tuesday, the last day before the parsimonious period of Lent begins and which we know as Shrove Tuesday. Many clubs wanting to raise money run crêpe stalls at village market – the sausage sizzle has definitely not made it here yet!

Whereas the English cousins’ pancakes are fluffy, textured, raised affairs, crêpes are unleavened, thin, golden and lacy. The once basic recipe of flour, eggs and milk (water can also be used to make them crispier) is now enriched with browned butter and flavoured with intoxicating arome pour crêpes.

This flavouring, sold in litre bottles, can be a fragrant blend of caramel, vanilla, orange and orange blossom water or it may have an alcoholic note from the inclusion of rum. It’s a pantry staple, more popular than vanilla, ready to be added to the snack food de rigueur á la Francais.

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