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Column: Discovering the surprising origin of crepes





I know this because places I used to like to walk around, or metro stations I used to frequent, are no longer an option for me. I physically cannot walk in them anymore due to hordes of map-clutching tourists.

Of course, what usually accompanies the tourists is the increase in street food — namely the crepe.

After writing about American food in Paris a couple weeks ago, I realized in the two months I have been here, never have I ever mentioned real French food.

Crepes are one of the foods most synonymous with France, after wine and baguettes.
It can be found in two different types of stores, the first being the aforementioned stand and the second as an actual sit-down restaurant. However, the tastes and textures of the two offerings are completely different.

Street crepes tend to be pretty simple in term of flavor — the thin pancake topped with butter and sugar or Nutella.

In a restaurant, it can get fancy. Toppings include caramelized apples and rum, or cookie butter. Also, dinner alternatives arise along with a different, crunchy type of buckwheat batter.

Right off the 6 line of the metro, I stumbled upon a street known for traditional Brittany-style crepes. I was completely surprised I would find a street of them.

Curious, I asked my host mother to explain why they were there.

I always thought crepe restaurants were scattered around Paris. At the time, I also didn’t know it originated in Brittany, a region of France south west of Paris, but in a northern corner of the country. She explained the geography to me.

The crepe street was a few steps away from Montparnasse Train Station, a station serviced by long-distance trains coming from the south west. She said the reason the street was loaded with crêpe restaurants was because it was designed to cater to the people newly arrived from that area.

This also explained why all the restaurants I’ve been to offer Bretagne Cidre — hard cider from Brittany traditionally eaten with the delicacy.

In my time here, I realized I will not have the chance to see all of France. I wanted to see what the typical non-Parisian city looked like, and I found stepping into these crepe stores are very much like taking a temporary vacation from Paris and into another region of France.

I’m usually the only foreigner in the room, but with the cottage-like décor, eating at these types of places make me feel about as French as I can become.

audperki@indiana.edu
@AudreyNLP

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