J'adore les crêpes!
Updated: May 1, 2019
By: Abigail DesVergnes
Sunday morning. Birds chirp, sun shines through the window, and the smell of hot-off-the-griddle crepes overwhelms my senses. My dad rings the cowbell—breakfast is served.
I can’t run to the kitchen fast enough. Upon arrival, I’m greeted by a plate with a perfect golden crêpe dressed in apple butter sauce. Crispy thick-cut bacon is set on the side. I indulge, and for a moment, time stops. Each bite seamlessly melts in my mouth until I’m left with a completely clean plate.
Snapping back to reality, I turn to my father who has been making and eating crêpes for his entire life. In front of me, I see someone of French descent, from a long line of passionate crêpe makers, but more than that, I see a story about how my favorite breakfast dish came to be.
Anthony Bourdain once said, “Context and memory play powerful roles in all the truly great meals in one’s life.” After reading that quote, I realized that as a child, I never really understood nor cared about the story behind my family’s tradition of making crêpes every Sunday morning. I just thought about how delicious they were. To understand the context of my family’s crêpe recipe, I did some digging.
In 1931, my Mémé was born to Victor and Alice Sharon in the promising city of Attleboro, Massachusetts. In the early 1930s, Victor and Alice moved to Attleboro from Mont-Saint-Grégoire, Québec, in search of jobs; Attleboro was a center for the jewelry-making industry.
Together, my grandparents began building a life with their three young children.
Then came a very rough patch for the Sharon family. My great grandmother fell ill to pneumonia and passed away, leaving behind Victor and the children, one of whom was my Mémé. At the time of my great-grandmother’s death, the worst economic downfall in the history of the industrial world would leave the family in shambles, leaving Victor and the children hoping to survive each day without starving to death.
One of the few meals my great-grandfather could afford to make was crêpes. The recipe at the time was simpler than the one my family makes today. The only ingredients used were flour and water.
“We would eat crêpes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” Mémé said.
Life became even more difficult for the family when Victor joined The Civilian Conservation Corps—a public work relief program during The Great Depression for unemployed, unmarried men. Victor was left with no money for his family and was forced to put my Mémé and two other siblings in an orphanage, as crêpes consisting of flour and water could no longer hold the family over.
During the few years my great-grandfather was away, life was tough for my Mémé and her siblings. Not only did they have to endure the loss of their mother, but now their father was gone, too. After a few years in the CCC, my great-grandfather returned to Attleboro with his new girlfriend, who would go on to be a mother figure to my Mémé and her siblings, now released from the orphanage.
With a little money saved and The Great Depression receding, my great-grandfather had a special treat for his children. He revolutionized the old crêpe recipe of flour and water and added eggs, milk, and oil with 100 percent real maple syrup drizzled on top.
All the struggle the family faced years prior seemed to fade away with each bite of the new and improved crêpe—the same crêpe that is served in my kitchen today. If it wasn’t for crêpes, I may not be alive today as it nourished my Mémé and her entire family through The Great Depression.
Today, my Mémé is 87, and still enjoys eating crêpes, which she taught my father and his six brothers and sisters, to make.
“Now I like my crêpes with extra syrup and butter,” Mémé said with a laugh.
The next time I indulge in a crêpe during Sunday breakfast, I will understand how lucky I am to come from a family that never gave up when things got tough, and who truly valued the importance of gathering around a table and sharing a meal together.
Serving size: Makes about 10 crêpes
1 cup of flour
⅓ cup of vegetable oil
1 ½ cup of milk.
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until all the ingredients are evenly mixed together.
Add about a tablespoon of vegetable oil into a medium-high pan.
Pour about a ½ cup of the mixture into the pan in a circle motion until the mixture has spread evenly along the bottom of the pan.
Once you see air bubbles, flip the crepe and allow the other side to cook through for another 30 seconds.
Serve on a plate & stuff the crêpe with anything you wish!