29 May 2009


Galettes are savory crepes that are traditionally made with buckwheat, salt, and water. And I found them in Paris. Some people will tell you it's hard to track down restaurants that serve them. I think that's because few people have heard of galettes and call them crepes. I know I hadn't heard of the alternate name until I started doing some research.

Before leaving for our trip I made notes of some specific restaurants, but they were in neighborhoods we hadn't otherwise planned on visiting. On our last full day in Paris we made a point to travel to one of those areas and seek out galettes for lunch. 

Along the way we got distracted. We were in Montparnasses after having visited the cemetery. We decided to wander around a bit before getting on the Metro to seek out lunch. And low and behold we came along a boulevard full of lunch-seekers and cafes and creperies to accommodate them. I started reading the posted menus carefully. I quickly discovered that galettes and crepes were two different foods, to the French. Galettes are often posted as salee, and crepes are sucre. That means galettes are savory and are supposed to be for your meal and crepes are sweet and for dessert. And many places make the galettes in the traditional way with just buckwheat. 

I had one of the great French food experiences completely by chance. I ordered my galette salee avec jambon et fromage (with ham and cheese). And it was great. It was so delicious that I felt bad that I couldn't finish it. It was just too filling. 

Later that same day I found a grocery store that sold packaged plain galettes. I bought some and a jar of orange marmalade. The person at the checkout register tried to stop me from such a heretic combination. Galettes salee shouldn't be mixed with a sucre filling. It just isn't done. He had a look of true sadness on his face when I told him I couldn't eat ble, wheat. He said, "It won't be the same." 

It wasn't the same. But they made for light breakfasts that were good enough some mornings on the road.

Buckwheat has two different names in French. Buckwheat flour can be farine du sarrasin or farine du ble noir.

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