The Great Debate: Crêpes Or Pancakes?

Photo by Emma Delaney

Ah, Paris – streetside tables outside small cafes, a Gershwin tune lighting the air, and a crêpe with Nutella and powdered sugar. This is what I think of when I think of the Parisian lifestyle. Some people only think of crêpes as thin, buttery French pancakes, but they are far more than that. This wafer-thin alternative to pancakes can be filled and assembled with an endless array of toppings. Here are four reasons why crêpes are superior to pancakes:

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1. Sweet AND savory.

Crêpes can be sweet or savory. Folded and stuffed with a voluptuous variety of fillings ranging from the well-known Nutella and bananas, mouth-watering caramelized apples, flavorful vegetables and egg, to gruyere and ham, crêpes have a flexibility that pancakes do not share. The possibilities are endless. Pancakes can't be folded or rolled neatly, and savory recipes just don't sound right – cheese melted on pancakes with spinach and mushrooms? No! But crêpes with melted cheese, spinach, and mushrooms? Count me in.

2. Anyone heard of pancake restaurants?

There is one pancake restaurant in America, IHOP, but it actually serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner with a smattering of pancakes. However, handfuls of crêpe stands and cafés are on the rise, which gives these babies another advantage. Heck, there are even waffle houses, but that is a whole other discussion.

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3. Breakfast vs. Every meal

Crêpes are so flexible they can be eaten for any meal – thank you reason #1. Crêpes are the quality fast food or "to go" snack in France and are gaining the same popularity in America, while pancakes are still stuck in the breakfast foods category.

4. More.

That one word holds so much promise. Crêpes are thinner than pancakes, so there is more room to keep devouring! By my calculations, eating 20 to 30 crêpes is the equivalent of eating one LotR elven lembas.

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Feeling inspired? Below is Julia Child's Master Recipe (≈ twenty 5-inch crêpes), which you can pair with some delectable toppings of your choice.

1 cup flour
2/3 cup cold milk
2/3 cup cold water
3 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons melted butter, plus more for brushing on pan

1) Mix all ingredients until smooth in a blender or with a whisk. Refrigerate.
2) Heat a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Brush with melted butter.
3) Pour in 2 to 3 tablespoons of batter into the center of the pan and then tilt the pan in all directions to cover the bottom evenly. Cook about 1 minute, or until browned on the bottom. Turn and cook briefly on the other side.
4) Cool on a rack or plate as you finish making the rest. Serve as desired.

Some sweet filling recommendations are: granulated sugar and lemon juice, jam and cream, diced strawberries and chocolate, your favorite ice cream, and fresh fruit.

Some savory filling recommendations are: chicken and avocado, a cheesy egg with peppers and onions, ratatouille, asparagus and salmon in a cream sauce, and spinach with Emmental cheese.

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Bon appétit!

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