Pancake Day was about the worst thing that could happen to pancakes. Yes, they get a whole day to themselves that other food stuffs can only dream of. But, like turkey at Christmas, this conditions the nation only to cook them on that cold Tuesday in February. The rest of the year the poor pancake remains largely forgotten, the excellent every day food that was caught in its own niche. This is why every UK household has a bag of flour, past its sell-by date, from several Februaries ago.
I like pancakes in pretty much all their forms: scotch, American sized, the ones you wrap duck in, but particularly the French crepes or gallettes (the savoury kind). I even like the US golfer Brooke Pancake.
So I was delighted to be invited to Covent Garden Piazza, where champagne house Krug held their pop-up Kreperie (see what they did there?), to be taught how to prepare a crepe by Pierre Koffmann. A former holder of three Michelin stars, Koffmann now runs an eponymous restaurant in The Berkeley Hotel.
He was a patient teacher, but kept an eagle eye on my technique, quickly spotting how I put the ladleful at the side of the hot plate, not in the middle (as he had told me to do just seconds before). I dragged it back to the middle and it cooked well. Pierre was pleased – no Ramsay-style ranting afterwards – and one of his sous chefs generously gave me eight and a half out of ten. I enjoyed my own so much, I asked the professionals to cook me another one - Pierre’s favourite, with crab, apple and avocado.
Yes, they can be enjoyed with a glass of Grande Cuvée in a chalet-style pod as I did, or at Koffmann’s restaurant, but they don’t have to be. As he pointed out to me, they are a cheap, simple food and one of mankind’s oldest meals. When I asked my teacher how I could become a crepe master, his advice to me was “keep practising”. Wise words. And a great excuse to make pancake day at least a monthly event.