The Crêpes Suzettes feed is a bona fide back in the day hall tradition. Written instructions how on how to prepare and make this feed have been handed down from generation to generation, entrusted to hall chairs, the paint cabinet, and finally, hung in the hallway by Vimal, where it came to the attention of hall residents. Why did this tradition stop? Why has there not been a Crêpes Suzettes Feed in recent memory? Good question.
What is a Crêpe?
- A crepe is a very small, thin pancake, made with an egg batter and consumed as both a main course and a dessert. They may be eaten by themselves, or with a topping, depending on their place in the meal. An entre crêpe may be topped with vegetables, cheese, eggs, or meat. Dessert crêpes have a variety of fillings, such as soft fruit spreads, ice cream, and chocolate. A simple and yet delicious way of enjoying a crêpe is sprinkling it with lemon juice and sugar.
- Crêpe originates from Brittany, a region in the west of France, where they are called krampouezh; their consumption is nowadays widespread in France. Buckwheat came to Europe from China and also spread to Eastern Europe, where a similar meal called blintz also developed. In Brittany, crêpes are traditionally served with apple cider. In areas of Central Europe, the meal is called palačinka (Czech, Slovak, Croatian and Slovenian), Palatschinken (Austrian), palacsinta (Hungarian), all these terms being derived from Romanian plăcintă (<Latin placenta meaning "cake"). In most German regions it's Pfannkuchen, in Dutch pannenkoeken, derived from the words "pan" and "cake".
- Crêpe Suzette is a crêpe, topped with a sugar sauce which is subsequently set on fire by pouring a flaming liqueur sauce over it; the sugar caramelizes, creating a thick sauce. Apparently, it was first created as a mistake by fourteen year-old assistant waiter Henri Carpentier as he was preparing a dessert for the Prince of Wales, King Edward VII of England. Taken from his autobiography,
“It was quite by accident as I worked in front of a chafing dish that the cordials caught fire. I thought I was ruined. The Prince and his friends were waiting. How could I begin all over? I tasted it. It was, I thought, the most delicious melody of sweet flavors I had every tasted. I still think so. That accident of the flame was precisely what was needed to bring all those various instruments into one harmony of taste . . . He ate the pancakes with a fork; but he used a spoon to capture the remaining syrup. He asked me the name of that which he had eaten with so much relish. I told him it was to be called Crepes Princesse. He recognized that the pancake controlled the gender and that this was a compliment designed for him; but he protested with mock ferocity that there was a lady present. She was alert and rose to her feet and holding her little shirt wide with her hands she made him a curtsey. ‘Will you,’ said His Majesty, ‘change Crepes Princesse to Crepes Suzette?’ Thus was born and baptized this confection, one taste of which, I really believe, would reform a cannibal into a civilized gentleman. The next day I received a present from the Prince, a jeweled ring, a panama hat and a cane.”
- Crêpe Suzette was first made on the hall in the year 1981 by Kate Lambert; the instructions themselves are dated Sept. 6th, 1983 and written by Marla Mathias. Detailed instructions for the creation and presentation of the crêpes are included, and hopefully the entire document, which was created on a typewriter, are available here.
- "As I will not be around next year or thereafter, I am writing down the instructions on how to make crêpes suzette, which were originally made R/O year 1981 by Kate Lambert. May I suggest you photocopy this so that you don't get goo all over it.
- To begin with, this recipe made 220 crêpes this year. 180 of these were eaten, but I'll leave the recipe for 220 and you can fiddle with it if you want.
- "....Another thing: I would suggest having this at night. In the daytime, nobody can see the flame it's not all that impressive. I would suggest a few candles lighting the room, nothing else. Very atmosphric. If candles are too expensive or dangerous, get just a few dorm-room standing lamps. Whatever you do, keep the lights dim, else nobody will see the flame.
- "... When you first start out, you might want to examine the crêpe you've made. Ideally, it is flat with no bubbles. (With all the pouring back and forth between cup and pan, some small blobs of previously-cooked crepe may end up in a new crêpe. Don't be alarmed-- it looks disgusting, but it's normal.) The crêpe should be very thin, nothing like a pancake. The cooked side should have small patches of light brown.
- "... Now you have a choice. You can pour the alcohol into the crêpe skillet and light the skillet with a match. However, I think it's more dramatic to light the alcohol in the saucepan and pour the flaming stuff onto the crêpes. Try it both ways. To go with this, we got four jugs of cheap wine. This was plenty. I think we also had ice tea for the non-drinkers.
- "Well, that should do it. I wish you all the successful future R/O weeks. May Fourth East always be the most subscribed floor in E.C."
- 7 1/2 cups pre-sifted flour
- 5 tablespoons (1/4 cup and 1 tablespoon) sugar
- 2 1/2 tables spoons (7 1/2 teaspoons, or 2 tablespoons + 1 1/2 teaspoons) salt
- 15 cups (1 gallon minus 1 cup) milk
- 5 dozen (60) eggs
- 2 3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon (45 tablespoons) butter or margarine
- 10 cups butter or margarine
- 10 cups sugar
- 20 teaspoons grated orange peel
- 10 cups (2 1/2 quarts) orange juice
- 5 cups (1 liter) orange liqueur (Triple Sec or Countreau)
- 5 cups (1 liter) brandy