Flour tortillas. Corn tortillas. Rice paper. Pita bread. Ravioli dough. Anthropologists may have missed the one thing that connects all human cultures–the need to wrap food up in little packages.
And crepes! How could I forget them, especially when I spent a recent late morning on line at Profi’s Creperie in the Reading Terminal Market with my companion. The counter stools were filled with slurping, chomping patrons. I didn’t know whether that meant the food was that good, or the counter space, always at a premium at the Market on a weekend, kept them coming in droves.
While I love a good burrito, swoon over a summer roll with its basil leaf etching, and went mad for the fava bean paste pita sandwiches we ate at a roadside restaurant in Cairo recently, I’ve never understood the appeal of the crepe. It’s delicacy seems a disadvantage, like trying to make a sail out of cheesecloth. It’s preciousness, too. Being a kitchen afficionado, I appreciate the little tools of the art. But there’s something about that weird flattened pusher spatula that looks more attuned to home remodeling than cooking
(apparently it’s called a “crepe spreader” in a display of stunning creativity) that causes me a moment of concern. Nevertheless, we’re at the front of the line. Astoundingly, I’m able to ignore the nutella filled crepes–nutella having the same effect on me as heroin on a junkie–Truly, if I ever hit bottom, I’ll probably be found in my bed, smeared in chocolate hazelnut paste with a dozen empty jars around me and one incriminating dirty spoon–and opt for a veggie crepe, with a mixture of squash, broccoli, onions and so on, with a feta cheese spread. My companion chooses the seafood crepe. While we wait, I snap some photos, causing the dour girl taking orders to ask, archly, if I’m taking pictures of her. No, I say, resisting the urge to ask why she thinks anyone would, I’m taking pictures of the food. To which she responds with a look of such disdain that I wonder if she’s seen the internet in the last 5 years. Everyone is taking pictures of food, sweetheart.
Given all of this, I’m expecting little. And find myself pleasantly surprised. The crepe, folded reminiscently of a military flag, was chewy and paired well with the filling, which was heartier than I imagined. Bright bursts of vegetables, slathered with a salty, smooth feta cheese spread, were scooped up with pieces of crepe for a lovely, light lunch. My companions seafood crepe was similarly satisfying. No time to bask, though, as other couples were eyeing our empty plates and wondering when we were going to vacate our stools. And so we did.
Recommended: veggie crepe for a light meal. making sure I never get my hands on a nutella crepe.