By Michelle Hum

Crêpes Suzette, Paris, by Barbara Redmond

Barbara Redmond

As millions of elementary school children in America eagerly wait for the groundhog to come out to find his shadow, the French celebrate Chandeleur, also known as Le Jour des Crêpes. What do waiting for a furry woodland creature and eating delicious sugar filled pancakes have in common? They both are derivations of the Christian holiday Candlemas.

Candlemas celebrates the presentation of Jesus at Temple. After giving birth to Jesus, Mary had to perform a ritual purification. From there, I’m not sure how weather predicting groundhogs or crêpes got involved, but somewhere along the line, these associations appeared. Even my host dad, a practicing Catholic, couldn’t tell me.

During my stay in Montpellier, France, I had the opportunity to celebrate Chandeleur with my host family. That morning, my host mom made a batch of crêpe batter and let it repose in the fridge during the day. After my host dad got home from work, the fun began. Tradition dictates that while flipping a crêpe during Chandeleur, you must hold a piece of money in one hand and flip the crêpe in the pan with the other. If you succeed, you will have good luck for the rest of the year. If not, better luck next year. I think we probably should have buttered the pan a bit better because none of us were able to flip our crêpes. Despite being cursed, the meal was still delicious.

The first round was crêpes aux champignons and for dessert, we had a variety of fillings ranging from simple butter and sugar to my new found favorite spread, Crème de Châtaigne (Chestnut Jam). The recipe my host mom uses comes from the cookbook “Je Sais Cuisiner” by Ginette Mathiot. There is also an English version of the book titled I Know How to Cook. It is pretty easy and featured below. For those who need a little more guidance, you can check out French chef Pierre Dominique Cécillon do a demonstration (in French). If you’re an Anglophone, Julia Child features these little delights on her TV show, The French Chef. Perhaps this year while waiting for the groundhog to come out and bring news of winter or spring, you can do it, crêpe in hand.

For crêpes, I used Ginette Mathiot’s recipe from Je Sais Cuisiner.


Je Sais Cuisiner, by Ginette Mathiot. Recipe for crêpes.


– 500 g flour (4 cups and two extra tablespoons)
– 1 liter milk (4 c)
– 4 eggs
– 2 tablespoon of oil
– 2 pinches of salt (for dessert crepes also add 2t sugar)
– Optional: vanilla, fleur d’oranger, rum, etc.


– Sieve flour into a mixing bowl.
– Create a little hole in the flour for the eggs.
– Add oil, salt, and a bit of milk.
– Whisk together.
– Gradually add in the milk, stirring to combine.
– Add the flavoring.
– Let it sit for at least an hour.
– Before cooking, add a little bit of milk to the batter and whisk it gently.
– Heat a crêpe pan over medium heat.
– Oil or butter a crepe pan/frying pan.
– Pour or scoop a little bit of the batter onto the pan.
– Swirl until batter forms a thin coat.
– Grab your piece of money, jiggle, flip, and hope for the best.

Michelle Hum is a self-proclaimed Francophile and foodie. Michelle has been fortunate enough to visit countries on three continents and live in France during a semester abroad. Food has become very important to Michelle as she tries to stay connected with many of the cultures she has experienced. A student at the University of Minnesota pursuing double majors in Psychology and Advertising and a minor in French, Michelle advises the digital aspects for A Woman’s Paris. Outside of school, you can find her perfecting her signature white chocolate fruit tarts and other treats.

You may also enjoy A Woman’s Paris® post, Still, “Mastering the Art of French Cooking.” Bon appétit, Julia! Bethany Olson inspires us with her review of Julie Powell’s book, Julie & Julia, and the film adaptation of the same title. Included are three simple recipes from the cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I, by Julia Child, Louisette Bertholle and Simone Beck and Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume II, by Julia Child and Simone Beck.

Boulangerie Poilâne: A toast to French Breads, by Barbara Redmond who shares her face-to-face encounter with a French baker during her visit to the 18th century ovens of Poilâne in Paris. Could she steal a pinch from the raw, soft-white boule in its proofing basket resting close by? The penetrating aromas of bread; strong, yeasty, and hot… Recipes included for Tartine Chocolat et Poivre (tartine of melted chocolate and black pepper) and La tartine For’bon (tartine of cheeses and ham) from Boulangerie Poilâne. 

For the love of yaourt (yogurt), by Michelle Hum who writes about her love of French yaourt: a tangy, creamy, dairy product that can stand by itself—although a dab of honey or handful of fresh fruit never hurts. Recipe included for Gateau au Yaourt au et au Citron (Lemon Yogurt Cake) by Ina Garten. 

Pain Perdu: Childhood love of French custard and bread, by Barbara Redmond who shares her discovery of pain perdu (French toast), from the boulangerie pâtisserie Calixte in Île St. Louis, Paris. Barbara experiences French toast as a favorite treat eaten in the gardens of Notre Dame in an air of whimsy and childhood delight. Recipe included for “original French toast,” made by Christophe Raoux of L’École de Cuisine d’Alain Ducasse for Mark Schatzker, ABC News explore

French Onion Soup – a Paris meal to remember, by Michelle Hum who recalls the aroma of sweet caramelized onions, dry wine, and rich broth rising from the steam from her bowl. With the first taste—serendipity. Recipe included for Julia Child’s Soupe à l’oignon (French onion soup) from her cookbook, The Way to Cook

Mardi Gras crêpes, by Canadian writer Philippa Campsie who derives the tradition of serving pancakes from the need to finish up things like butter and sugar before Lent began. From the creation of pancakes, there came the making of crêpes and eventually the much fancier, Crêpes Suzette: crêpes with a hot sauce made of caramelized sugar, grated orange peel, orange juice, and Grand Marnier, flambéed in a chafing dish. Recipe included for Crêpes Suzette by Keda Black, translated from her cookbook, Mon Cours de Cuisine (My Cooking Course). 

Text copyright ©2012 Michelle Hum. All rights reserved.
Illustration copyright ©2012 Barbara Redmond. All rights reserved.