Nearly every culture features some kind of pancake in its cuisine – from the Emirati regag to the Indian dosa, Japanese hirayachi, Dutch poffertjes, Russian blinis and French crepes.
Click start to play today’s Spell It, where you can find a delicious ‘crepe’. Visit Gulf News’ Food section for recipes and guides on how to make it at home. Try your hand at making an Emirati regag or a rawa dosa.
How did this flat, delicious, easy-to-make pancake become so beloved?
In the West, the word pancake originates from the Greek word tiganos, meaning ‘frying pan’. The word’s DNA runs across various languages and cultures, from the Norwegian pannekake to the South African pannekoek. Another word – the Latin crispa – meaning ‘creases’, lends its roots to the thin, folded-style pancakes or crepes that you’re used to seeing in French cafés. It is also the origin of Mexican crepas and Turkish krep.
France, in particular, has embraced its version of pancake like no other country. The country has dedicated creperies that create hundreds of varieties of crepes. The dish is even on the French calendar – a ‘Day of the Crepe’ or le jour des crêpes, celebrated on February 2.
According to the US-based Institute of Culinary Education (ICE), French folklore depicts the origin of crepes in the country as a happy accident. In the 13th century, a housewife in Brittany accidentally spilled some buckwheat porridge from a kettle in the fireplace, onto a flat cooking stone. Et voila! The first crepe was formed. However, other sources show that the French were first introduced to the dish on February 2 in the year 472, when crepes were offered to French pilgrims visiting Rome for Candlemas by Pope Gelasio I. It’s why, some historians say, the date was selected for the Day of the Crepe.
Regardless of its origins, this flat, crisp combination of flour, eggs, milk, butter, salt and sugar can now be found all around the world. Featherlight and delicious with a variety of ingredients – from hazelnut spread to cheese to sprinkled sugar – the crepe is that rare dish that can be enjoyed at a street stall or in the most elite Parisian restaurant.