Our Tuesday contributor is Debora Mordkowski. She'll be posting every Tuesday as our Cultural Tuesday contributor. Debora Mordkowski is an accomplished professional in the areas of media relations, government affairs, PR and branding strategy. Debora enjoys writing about international matters and subjects. Lately, food has awakened her curiosity and enthusiasm resulting in succulent articles that you will have the opportunity to read on our website. In them, Debora focuses on the history and cultural heritage of different types of cuisines, which reflect and celebrate legacies and bring people together. Debora is a recent graduate of Columbia University's School of International and Public Affairs.
By Debora Mordkowski
Crepe. Panqueque. Palacsinta. Pannekoeken. Pannakakor. And, the list goes on... Every country has its word for pancake.Â And, just as the number of ways this round, gooey delicacy is called; there are ways in which it can be filled!
The crepe's origin dates back to the fifteenth century in Brittany, northwest of France, where peasants offered them to feudal lords as a sign of loyalty. Ingredients were not refined, as white flour was expensive. So, early crepes were made with buckwheat. As peasants became wealthier, the crepe's ingredients began to change and the dish evolved to be a sweet treat made of white flour usually served for tea or dessert.
In time, crepes migrated throughout the world, and became quite diverse in their selection. Today they are served salty and sweet, thick and thin. It really depends who you ask. An Argentinean will tell you that a panqueque (Spanish for crepe) is not a crepe without dulce de leche (a thick caramel sauce) topped with caramelized brown sugar and apple slices. Hungarians, like my friend Zsuzsa who made her national specialty last year, will say that a palacsinta (Hungarian for crepe) is best when filled with farmers cheese, sugar, a hint of lemon zest and raisins soaked in rum. Fillings are as worldly and diverse as they are countless!
Personally, a chocolate crepe is something very special. It reminds me of warm family moments and playful childhood experiences during our vacations in Provence. Every two years, my mother, my sister and I, would go visit my family in the south of France during the summer. To keep us, and my cousins in line, walks to Le Castellet, a medieval village on the hills of town, was mandatory. We would walk up the hills on unpaved roads surrounded by green vineyards and sprinkled with wild red poppies in full bloom to arrive at the imposing gates of this French reliquary.
While the regular tourist would marvel at the historical significance and architectural heritage of Le Castellet, for me, my sister and my cousins only one thing was on our minds: a chocolate crepe. We would race up the cobble stoned, narrow street and stand right in front of a little shop in which a lady made crepes using a black round pan. We would giggle waiting for the adults to arrive, who immediately ordered our crepes with a hint of worry in their faces, as they knew this was going to be a messy treat. The crepes dripped with melted bittersweet chocolate. Biting into it was obviously unforgettable. The dough was thin, yet very consistent and flavorful, and the chocolate spread in my mouth to sink into every taste bud. Our happiness was hard to miss because our smiles would be rimmed with cocoa from the first bite until we finished the last bit.
It was delicious!
Today, even as the future of crepes is constantly being re-invented in kitchens around the world, for me the chocolate crepe stands the test of time. What's your flavor?