Usually served for a snack or dessert, crêpes are the thinnest of pancakes and can have anything inside of them; a crêperie (or ti-krampouezh in Breton) is a restaurant that specializes in them, making savoury galettes for the main course and crêpes, often with ice cream, for dessert. The finest ones are given the crêperies gourmandes seal of approval.
All over France, supermarkets do a special on crêpe pans, sugar and Nutella for La Chandeleur or Candelmas (2 February). It’s traditionally the day (40 days after Christmas) when baby Jesus was presented at the Temple.
Candelmas replaced the Roman pagan festival of Lupercalia, which took place around the same time. Candles were lit at midnight and flat round yellow cakes were eaten, symbolizing the return of the sun in spring.
When Pope Gelasius I instituted Candlemas as a feast of the Church in the 5th century, he had flat round cakes distributed to the many pilgrims who arrived in Rome. Because they were made with surplus flour from the previous year's harvest, they also became a symbol of prosperity.
Image by Alice Wiegand