My family and I immigrated to Canada from France in the days before grocery shelves offered shoppers a tour of the world. Today when we walk into our local stores we can bring home the tastes of Greece, Thailand, Morocco, or France, but in the Pleistocene era (also known as the late 1970s) if you wanted sauerkraut, you found the closest German deli.
As newcomers who were far from family we longed for the familiar, including familiar flavours. There’s a reason why many of the most important moments in a family’s life happen around the table. Food is tied to comfort and memories. When we left France we left behind relatives with whom we spent every holiday and many weekends. My brother and I were old enough to realize the magnitude of our move and to feel the pangs. To make sure that integration to our new life in Canada went smoothly our parents made every effort to create excitement for the new — tobogganing and hockey became favourite activities — while providing us with much needed familiarity — the foods we loved.
Mom did her best to keep up with the Lao, French, and German dishes we knew while learning to cook new recipes she discovered here. She also scoured every specialty shop within a 50-kilometer radius of our house to make sure we ate yogurt, dark rye bread, Brie, and Nutella.
We grew up eating Nutella in France — yes, I know it’s Italian, but the French love their Nutella — and it was a link to our family there after we moved to Canada. I can’t remember not having it in the cupboard, and that made our house a popular place once my new friends tasted it for the first time.
“You mean I can eat hazelnut spread on my bread?” It was easy to make friends when I pulled out that card.
Now my kitchen cupboards are stocked with family favourites and I don’t have to forage in dodgy neighbourhoods for runny cheese and chocolaty hazelnut Nutella goodness like my mom did. The kids think our kitchen is barren when we've run out of Nutella. True story. My son recently complained that we hadn’t had any in OVER A YEAR, MAMAN. One month=one year in kid calendars. I’m not complaining though because he’s learning to cook. At least that’s what he says when he makes Nutella-banana wraps after school.
Some things should be left alone. Crêpes are crêpes and there isn’t much to be done to them. I added less salt and included vanilla sugar, but other than that stuck to this perfect French classic.
Classic Crêpes Ingredients:
1 cup unbleached flour
2 eggs, beaten
4 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tsp vanilla sugar (or 1 packet of Dr. Oetker vanilla sugar)
1 pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups milk
Combine the flour, eggs, 2 tablespoons melted butter, vanilla sugar, salt, and milk in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth.
Set aside for one hour.
Heat frying pan to medium heat.
Melt 1-2 tablespoons of butter. Whisk the batter again.
Scoop one small ladle (approximately 4 tablespoons) of batter into the center of the pan and swirl, making a thin layer.
Cook 30 seconds and flip, cooking another 20-30 seconds. The edges should be lightly browned.
Makes 10-12 crêpes
Nutella and Pear Filling Ingredients:
1 tablespoon of Nutella per crêpe
1-2 tablespoons butter
Quarter, core, and peel the pears.
Slice the quarters.
Heat 1-2 tablespoons of butter over medium heat and brown the pears slightly.
Remove from heat when pears are softened.
Spread one tablespoon of Nutella on a crêpe.
Add one heaping tablespoon of the browned pear on the Nutella and fold.
To complete the ideal weekend breakfast or brunch, serve with berries and a huge bowl of café au lait. Or a cup if you’re reasonable. Psst…pass the bowl. Bon Appétit!
Finished Crêpes Serve 4
Crêpe recipe from La Cuisine: Everyday French Home Cooking