The origin of the crêpe dates back to 7000 BC. At that time, the crêpe was a staple food often accompanied by various cereals that was among other similar foods people just spread out and dried. Such cakes and pancakes (crêpes) that were made from wheat flour, rice, corn or other grains could be found in all civilizations of both the Old and New Worlds.
Buckwheat, a key ingredient in authentic Brittany crêpes, belongs to the family of Polygons, such as rhubarb and sorrel. However, probably because of its culture, food packaging and its use, buckwheat is highly regarded among today's grains. In the twelfth century, the crusaders brought buckwheat back from Asia. Subsequently the cultivation of buckwheat diffused from north to south and then from east to west. It was not until a century later that this cultivation arrived in Brittany where the wet and temperate climate is perfect for growing this plant.
Thus buckwheat, ground into flour, entered the composition of crêpes. Buckwheat crêpes from Upper Brittany, are cooked in a pan on one side and garnished while still hot with egg, pâté, sausages, sardines and other local products. One could also cut the cooked crêpes into thin strips to decorate soups and broths. Crispy buckwheat crêpes were very widespread in Lower Brittany and prepared by an initial lengthy beating of the dough followed by baking it on both sides on hot stones
Thick patties and thin buckwheat crêpes which went back, it was said, to the time of Duchess Anne, were suitable products of grains that could be grown on the land of the poor, the majority of Brittany. Wheat crêpes were rather reserved for landowners and urban dwellers. The use of wheat for making crêpes appeared at the beginning of the XXth century with the popularization of white flour, formerly an overpriced product along with sugar, honey and jams.
The first crêpes maker cast appeared in the fifteenth century. Of griddles then in use at markets they worked quickly. The merchant would spread the dough on a crêpes maker and then quickly return to finish cooking the other side. They sold the dry crêpes to people who ate them standing in front of the merchant's stall.
These crêpes were soon accompanied by various ingredients, such as eggs, sausage or bacon brought by those who wanted to consume them with their cooked crêpes. The merchants would cook these ingredients on the edge of the crêpes maker before inserting them into the cooked crêpes. Women, who became renowned for their provisions for parties or weddings, worked from dawn to prepare the huge "échées" (in French) or crêpes stacks that were devoured heartedly with salted butter, pate, eggs and sausages.
For dessert, an egg or two was added to the dough along with scented cinnamon or orange blossom. Thus the sweet crêpe was born. Soon, wheat replaced buckwheat, then milk went into the composition that could be cut into thin strips to decorate soups and broths .
Brittany was able to develop this tradition and make a gourmet specialty recognized around the world. However, the skill, accuracy and knowledge necessary to be a good crêpes maker is not possessed by everyone, and the art of the crêpe remains more an art of composition of flavors, especially within the quality of culinary preparations which are affixed to it.