Travel to France really did a number on me; I rolled over at 6:15 am on a recent Saturday and decided it was time to proof my bread. At the time I could have probably claimed jetlag, but the sad truth is that warm bread is a major reason for my existence. Few things bring such pure pleasure as hot bread straight out of the oven.
Each week, I try to bake a new loaf as part of my master plan to enjoy life and this particular flavor-of-the-week was sea salt and thyme. I sprinkled some newly acquired sel marin gris (a natural, mineral-rich sea salt harvested from the coast of Brittany, France) and thyme from Siena Farms on its top and let it go quietly back to rising.
Then I got a ridiculous urge to make crepes. So I turned to David Lebovitz—pastry chef extraordinaire and Parisian transplant—to see if he had a crepe recipe in his arsenal. (He does.) Unfortunately, I wasn’t cooking for Napoleon’s grande armée.
I don’t know why crepe recipes tend to have lofty yields of 20 or more, especially because I don’t know 20 people that would be very tickled if I called at 6:45 am on a Saturday for crepes. One or two friends, at best. (Am I supposed to have more friends or am I supposed to take down more crepes in a sitting?)
You could certainly argue for freezing leftovers, but the delicate nature of a crepe and the lack of current space in my freezer caused me some anxiety at the thought. (I don’t need to add frozen crepes to the odd laundry list—currently including cartoons, antibacterial soap and cell phone ringtones—of things in life that already make me anxious.)
So I did what I do best (or arguably worst, in many dessert-related cases) and modified the recipe to yield fewer crepes. David also called for buckwheat, which I didn’t have (and don’t imagine there is a general need for before 7 am). Despite these obstacles—and defying all usual logic—the crepes came out lovely, light and airy. One of the best meals I’ve made in a while. I give Paris some inspirational credit for this.
In fact, the crepes (yes, I had several) were a fond reminder of my first meal in Paris, a galette au jambon et fromage. A galette is a crepe originating from Brittany, traditionally made with buckwheat flour. I chose to have mine filled with ham and cheese, though I was jetlagged and asked for it with jamon. You just can’t erase 6 years of Spanish. You say jambon, I say jamon: it was arguably one of my most satisfying meals in Paris. I was hungry, walking on Parisian cobblestone, and eating melted cheese.
This particular morning, I filled my crepes with … actually … I can’t remember what I put inside. They were that good. And easy. And fun to eat so early in the morning. In fact, I think I can safely add crepes to the list of things in life that do the opposite of trigger anxiety, including but not limited to freshly baked bread and apparently things that hail from Brittany, France.
In fact—now this is unsubstantiated—Napoleon may have waged fewer wars if he had been served a respectable quantity of crepes. Or at least felt less anxious about his height.