Friday, September 28, 2007

Behold! The Crepe Maker Cometh.

As part of the health section of my third grade daughter's IB unit of inquiry, her teacher sent out a request to parents to help with a French-themed breakfast. It seemed a simple enough request. Bring in crepe batter. Come into class and make them.

How could I go wrong? I had fond memories of gorging myself on sugar-filled crepes that my French-raised grandmother would make for Mardi Gras. My mother was a chef. I remember her riding the subway to work, her army-issue carrying case filled with cooking knives jauntily swinging from her shoulder. Surely such can-do spirit might have rubbed off on me.

One reason for doing this was the extra brownie points needed to redeem myself from the "What do people do for a living?" unit. I had signed up for the "Creative" section, on the heels of so-and-so's gastroenterologist mother who came into class to talk about how the digestive systems works. In contrast, my presentation would be something along the lines of

"Hello, boys and girls. My name is Nathalie Mason-Fleury and I make things up for a living. That's actually a figure of speech because, so far, nobody pays me to do this. Today my colleague and I researched how to fake your own death. I don't have any medical, forensic or criminology degrees, but it only took me a few minutes to look this up on the Internet. Why would I bother with professional references when I read the National Inquirer? Look at how long it took Lacy Peterson's body to come floating back up. And they knew exactly where to look.

Things started to go wrong from the very beginning:

1) I doubled the batter proportions. However this caused the batter to overflow in the Cuisinart as the liquid level went higher than the middle blade attachment.

2) I then decided to guesstimate how much of the milk and water to replace, but probably didn't add enough flour, which made the batter a little runny.

3) Worse, we had to cook on these horrible plug in electric eye units that were underpowered and didn't heat enough. A Bunsen burner would have been better, as at least I'd have gotten some heat. It took an average of five minutes per side for each crepe to cook and I know that's not normal.

This confirmed what I had always suspected, that I would rather stand for eight hours at a software trade show with cheap carpeting in three inch heels, than deal with a class of cynical nine year olds.

"You're not very good at this are you?" "I'm a picky eater, I don't want the broken ones" "My dad is a great crepe maker," "how come they keep falling apart" "When is this going to be ready?" and proceeded to literally go down the toilet, as two of them starting singing: "Bob Marley, Jim Dandy, R. Poopy..."

The veteran teacher gave me some advice and consolation: "Next time, make them all ahead of time and bring some token batter. Send them off on some distracting activity. Then, 15 minutes later: Voila! 30 perfectly formed TurboCrepes. But don't worry, it's the weekend. That way if they get sick it will be at home with their parents and we won't have to deal with it."

I appreciated his wisdom and told him that if, one day, the teaching thing didn't pan out, he really should consider putting on software demos.


carmela said...

"I would rather stand for eight hours at a software trade show with cheap carpeting in three inch heels, than deal with a class of cynical nine year olds."

GENIUS!!! haha!!!! this comment made me laugh so much in this internet cafe!!!! Nathalie- you have such a talent with words- such a pleasurable read- please more!!!! I absolutely cannot wait for your play!!!!! Please let me know when it's in the theatres so we can already book our tickets!!! Publish not perish-

Nathalie said...

Hi Carmela, glad you liked the post.

For any other readers who are also crepe makers or would be crepe makers, I got some advice from more expert people than myself on how to have them come out better than mine.

1) Use blender and not Cuisinart (Cuisinart tends to overflow when liquid level gets two high).

2) Make two batches, don't double the recipe, this has to do with some food chemistry I don't really understand, but more experienced chefs than I swear by it.

2) Use a hot cooking surface.

One thing I did do right and makes a difference between blah crepes and great ones--Use real butter!