Crepes seem to have popped up in American food culture fairly recently and easily thanks to their versatility. Like a little black dress, crepes can be dressed up or down. I've often stood in a long line on Saturday morning to get a crepe from a small booth at my local farmers market, and I've also ordered it as a dessert at a fine restaurant. This dish takes so many different forms, its definition can be hard to pin down. So, what are crepes, and what makes them so popular?

Crepe? Crêpe? Creep?

Basically, a crepe is a very thin pancake. The term crepe derives from the Latin word crispus, which means curled. Recipes can vary, but the most basic crepe is simply flour, water and salt. Some butter or oil is put on a stove, and a wooden scraper shapes the batter into a round and flat layer. The crepe can then be folded and stuffed with toppings of one's choosing.

Crepes originated in Brittany (Bretagne for you French speakers), which is in the northwest region of France. They were first produced in the 12th century at the same time that buckwheat was introduced to the region. Early recipes combine water and salt with buckwheat to create a simple batter, but more modern recipes use white flour instead.  

How to Eat Crepes

Abigail Shipps

What makes crepes so popular and fun to eat is that you can stuff and dress them with whatever fillings or toppings you'd like. A popular modern topping is simply Nutella and powdered sugar; it can be a sweet breakfast treat or a yummy dessert. If you're feeling a bit fancier, you can stuff a crepe with some veggies or even add eggs for a protein-packed breakfast. The great thing about crepes is that you can make them as basic or as complicated as you want. Versatility and creativity in one dish? Oh yeah. 

Where to Get Crepes

beer, tea
Stephanie Lee

The versatility of crepes not only makes them edible in different ways, but it also makes crepes available across a variety of food platforms. For instance, the farmers market that I frequent in Atlanta has a crepe vendor that comes every week to serve up some unique breakfast crepes. My favorite one to get is packed with spinach, grilled mushrooms, eggs, and goat cheese.

You can also find crepes on the dessert menu of French restaurants. What's even better than buying a crepe is making your own! There are only a few ingredients needed, and it's always fun experimenting with different recipes and flavors. 

So, what are crepes? Possibly the most versatile food to ever exist. You can cater it to your own tastebuds. Crepes can be eaten plain, with a slab of Nutella and powdered sugar, or stuffed with meats, cheeses, veggies, and more. Even though crepes are flat and simple, their endless flavor forms and French origin make them an interesting and trusty crowd pleaser.