Many there are in New Orleans today who remember the delightful old-time Crepe parties that the belles and beaux used to give. The word would go from mouth to mouth that some great, cheery kitchen in the rue Esplanade, the rue Royale or the rue Rampart would be at the disposal of the young folks for the evening for a Crepe party, and thither the young gallants and numbers of Ma Belle Creole would gather, and the dexterity with which a young lady could toss a Crepe was often the open sesame to some young man’s heart. The great secret in tossing a Crepe was to do it with accuracy and celerity, and so neatly that it would settle down in its place in the frying pan just as though it had not been touched, with no rough edges around, and as smooth and round as a young globe. The old Creole cooks prided themselves on the way that they could toss a Crepe, and the great secret that they had mastered in making them as thin as possible, and exceedingly tender.
As the Crepes were tossed by the girls, they were caught by the young men and piled in a hot plate. Then they were served hot, with butter and molasses, or were each spread with sugar and cinnamon and butter, mixed, and rolled. There was as much art in rolling the Crepes as in serving them. But more generally they were simply buttered and rolled in our unexcelled Louisiana molasses, or La Cuite, a deposit of sugar which comes from the molasses.
These innocent diversions of long ago, like the old-time molasses candy pullings, or soirees de candi tire, and the quaint old-time eau sucre parties, have passed out of the life of the old French Quarter. They are among the most gentle memories of those ancient days.
Crepes are made as follows, the quantity of ingredients given above being sufficient for six persons:
Beat the yolks and whites of the eggs together. Then add the flour, and beat very light. Add the milk, pouring gradually, and having the batter no thicker than cream. Add the salt, and mix well. Now comes the most important part, the baking. Unless this is properly done, your labor has fallen to naught. Have a wide pancake pan, and let it be very hot. Grease it with butter, or, better still, with a piece of fat bacon. This is the safest way, as you will not have a Pancake swimming in grease, a most undesirable offering at any table. Pour in butter sufficient to just cover the bottom of the pan. In a minute, or perhaps less time, the Cake must be ready to turn. This is the critical moment that the old Creole cooks used to understand so well. By a peculiar sleight of hand that comes only by experience, the Cake was tossed and caught in the pan, and the brown side was brought up without failure, and the Cake lay just as smooth as though untouched. Those who wish to learn the art must begin slowly at first. If you have never tossed a Pancake, and attempt to do it before you have caught the “trick, ” as the old Creole cooks used to call it, you will make a miserable failure, and have only a mingled heap of batter. Go slowly, and learn. The old Creole cooks used to say, when one of their number could toss a Crepe to the top of the chimney and bring it down again slick and smooth, with the brown side up, tossing minute after minute, “like lightning, ” that the woman was “for sure one hoodoo, and the old devil himself had taught her to toss and fry.” But the Pancakes thus tossed savored neither of fire nor brimstone, and when rolled up with infinite art and ready to serve hot on a dainty china dish, many were the encomiums that masters and mistresses bestowed upon their faithful cooks. Crepes may be served as an entree at breakfast, dinner or supper. They also make an excellent luncheon dish.