I was one of six kids, so breakfast when I was a kid was chaos. On special occasions Mom would break out cast-iron pans on the weekend. (I think? Maybe it was more often? Funny how I couldn’t tell you if it was weekly or annually.) Sometimes she’d even make crepes for dinner. She’d stir up the batter when we were asleep so it had time, like us, to rest–I’ve no idea if it was early in the morning or late at night but I never witnessed the magic.
She wouldn’t cook the crepes ahead; it was made-to-order big-batch cooking at its best because she insisted they were only good right out of the pan. She’d melt some bacon grease into the skillets and swirl crepe batter in them, her hands moving between pans and her wrists rotating so each pan would be just coated.
The flour, butter, eggs and sugar became quick assembly line canvases for we (oui, oui Francais!) artists. My sisters topped their crepes with confectioners’ sugar; my brother preferred brown sugar. Sometimes there was bacon to tuck into them as you rolled them up.
Obviously this wasn’t a health play. But we were all too busy jockeying for the next one and snagging toppings from each other to talk. As my mom’s arms did a tango, flipping and serving one and the next, the whole gaggle of us was quiet, her dream come true.
Fast forward to a few years ago. Desperate at my oldest’s son’s extreme pickiness, I searched for some dish that would make a hearty breakfast or a family meal that we’d all eat. Besides pizza. I recalled how at Memere’s house all three of my sons enjoyed crepes. So I gave it a go, and it worked.
I’d make crepes here and there for breakfast for dinner or for weekend breakfast. My middle guy got stuck on them for breakfast. I discovered I could make a double batch, let them cool, and reheat them for him on school days. He clearly had different standards than my mom. Ok by me.
I riffed on my mom’s recipe, skipping the butter in the batter and bacon grease in the pan. I always put out fruit for toppings and they branched out to Nutella and dabbled with turkey and pizza toppings. As a mom you sometimes need baby steps. And this was one for me.
I was so glad to see them mixing and matching new combinations of toppings and fillings. And I was happy to carry on my mom’s tradition, to share an ounce of my French heritage, and our family could sit at the table in a different, more positive way. We could just talk about our blessedly jam-packed days or upcoming plans or video games or the cats or sports scores–anything but focusing on who was eating or not eating what. Kinda the opposite of the quiet my mom sought, but for me, too, a dream come true.