TRICOLORED CREPES FOR
LE QUATORZE JUILLET IN MAINE
Allons enfants de la patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous de la tyrannie. Claude-Joseph Rouget,1795.
I've mentioned before that I had the good fortune to spend half of my twenties living in Paris where I came to appreciate the French National Independence Day, July 14th, the commemoration of the storming of the infamous Bastille Prison and popularly called Le Quatorze Juillet. There are parades; fireworks; and my favorite part -- dancing in the street with lots of food, wine, and games!
Naturally I had to continue to celebrate this fun fest when I returned to the States, driving my family crazy. When I had my delightful twin daughters, I loved passing this tradition on to them. Each year, as July 14th arrives, I am transported back to memories of dancing in the Parisian streets with a young man in a French sailor shirt who might have been named Paul. But much more vividly, I remember the summers I spent later on with my family at Silver Sands in Maine celebrating together le Quatorze Juillet.
Silver Sands is an idyllic compound of family cottages right on Sebago Lake, belonging to the family of dear friends, Sharon and Jeff. There are tons of kids, almost all cousins. Each year on July 14th, I would make tricolored crêpes for the Quatorze Juillet in our little cabin. They are stuffed with freshly picked blueberries and strawberries, and the white in the tricolor motif was your choice of whipped cream, confectioner's sugar, or crème fraîche from a local farm. The youngest kids would gather blueberries for me, although the berries had a way of disappearing in the picking so I couldn't count on a great many from that source. But there were plenty of pick your own available at local farms. I made big bowls of crêpe batter and started making the crêpes.
The smallest children ate first. As they ate, I made more crêpes for the patiently waiting hordes, and told them all about the French Revolution and the dreaded Bastille prison and the first Quatorze Juillet. I asked my daughters to draw pictures since I was hopeless as an artist. There was always someone who could help sing the Marseillaise. Patrick, the oldest cousin, unmercifully ridiculed me.And they ate and they ate. The big kids followed, and then the adults. It took quite a while. But we always had enough. Then we all raced to the lake to plunge into the most pristine water you have even seen to wash away the batter and sugar and berries. It was heavenly.
"I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore...
I hear it in the deep heart's core." --William Butler Yeats.
Last summer, we were there for the 50th anniversary celebration of Silver Sands, a bittersweet celebration, since Ed Sullivan, the beloved patriarch had passed away recently. Erinn, the youngest child in my crêpe-making days, and now a beautiful young woman, came up to me and asked if I would be there for the Quatorze Juillet, just a few days away. She didn't say the 14th of July, mind you, even though it had been years since I'd been there to make my crêpes. I decided then that stories accompanied by food probably have more chance of sticking, and to never underestimate what a child hears and remembers.
Anyway, their abysmal showing in the World Cup notwithstanding, vive la France and enjoy making your own tricolored crêpes this Quatorze Juillet!
Tricolored Crêpes for Le Quatorze Juillet
1 cup all purpose flour
2/3 cup milk
2/3 cup cold water
3 large eggs
1/4 tsp. salt
6 Tbs. melted butter
3 qts of blueberries
3 qts of strawberries
pint of heavy whipping cream
pint of crème fraîche
Measure the flour, then whisk in the milk and water to make a smooth blend. (Or you can do this in a blender instead of with a whisk). Whisk in the eggs, salt and 3 Tbs of the butter. Let rest for 10 minutes to an hour in the fridge.
Heat the crêpe pan until hot when you put your hand over it. And believe me its worth getting a crêpe pan. Brush lightly with a paper towel dipped in the melted butter. Put 1/4 cup of batter in the center and then spread evenly. It should cover the surface. After 30 seconds. or when you see the sides coming away, it should be ready to turn. Cook it 15 to 20 seconds more. And it's done. Keep cooking, as people will be eating as fast as you can make them. Stuff with the blueberries and strawberries and whatever choice of white topping they like: whipped cream, crème fraîche, or powdered sugar sifted over. Enjoy!
This recipe and many other family and travel favorites are available on my website, DishandDine.com. Stop by and become part of our grass roots global food community!