petite anglaise

February 3, 2005

la fête du nutella

Filed under: miam — petiteanglaise @ 11:17 am

Yesterday was Chandeleur (fête des chandelles) in France, a date on the Christian calendar which translates as Candlemas in English. I know this only because a well-meaning colleague has brought a stack of crèpes and a vat of chocolate spread into the office this morning. I’m on my fourth. It is 11am.

I decided, between crèpes, that I ought to have a look on the interweb to see why I was being obliged to put my New Year’s resolutions on pause (again). This is what I found:

Churchgoers celebrate this originally pagan festival of lights by bringing a special, blessed candle home from Mass. If the candle remains lit all the way home, this is taken to be a good omen for the year to come.

Celui qui la rapporte chez lui allumée
Pour sûr ne mourra pas dans l’année

Crèpes are consumed on this day because according to old proverbs, this guarantees a good wheat harvest. Superstition also has it that if you hold a gold coin in your left hand while successfully flipping over the first crèpe it will bring you prosperity and good fortune. I’m not sure if a gold-coloured 50 centime coin would be considered good enough for this purpose, but in any case, I’ve missed the boat as far as this year is concerned. Probably a good thing as I imagine I would have spent a delightful evening scraping partially cooked crèpes off the kitchen floor.

Superstition and religious festivals aside, to my mind it would be more appropriate to rebaptise this ‘la fête du nutella’. Ditto for Mardi Gras (‘Fat Tuesday’ where the French eat beignets and the English eat pancakes), which rather unfortunately (for my thighs) falls only a week later. Naturally I don’t observe Lent, which would help to make amends for all this gluttony, because I’m selective about which ‘religious’ festivals I celebrate.

Crèpes are one of those foods which I see primarily as a delivery device for naughtier things. Like popcorn, which I only eat for the salt or sugar sprinkled on top, or Pringles which are so much better with a dip. Sure, I could eat a crèpe with lemon juice, but where’s the fun in that, when I could be spreading several centimetres of chocolatey, hazelnutty melty goo on instead?

Fact: Nutella is sold in 3kg tubs. That should be illegal.

28 Comments

  1. ah yes, the 3kg tubs, they stunned me when I first saw them

    Comment by Nathalie — February 3, 2005 @ 11:50 am

  2. Are crepes in Paris viewed as some kind of almost exotic treat? Here in Brittany, they are as ubiquitous as Monty Python’s spam, though obviously spam isn’t made of chamois leather. We also have the crepe’s savoury half-sibling the Galette, sour cider and (here’s the clincher) curdled milk sold by the litre under the title of Lait Ribot (Brilliant marketing). Save literally pennies by leaving a litre of pasteurised red-top (why is red-top full cream here and why does it last an uncannily long time? Over to you, Petite) on a sunny windowsill for a week. God, I do go on, don’t I? Sorry Petite.

    Comment by Jim in Rennes — February 3, 2005 @ 11:55 am

  3. I love la Bretagne for that reason Jim. We have pseudo-Bréton creperies here (for about twice the price you pay)and vendors on street corners too. But nothing half as nice as the ones I’ve had on my hols in Brittany. And they were nothing like chamois leather.

    I suppose the difference with Chandeleur is that you actually bother to make them yourself at home.

    What is the curdled milk for? Sounds horrible?

    Comment by petite — February 3, 2005 @ 12:16 pm

  4. Who needs crepes? Nutella from the jar…YUM!:lol:

    Comment by Claypot — February 3, 2005 @ 12:52 pm

  5. Nutella is like crack for me. I can swear that I have not let it cross the threshold into my apartment in the year that I’ve lived in France. I have HORRIBLE, HORRIBLE memories of eating it straight from the jar while reading magazines late at night during my semester abroad in London (this is before it was readily available in the US). I gained 10 pounds (4 kilo?) that semester.

    Comment by Coquette — February 3, 2005 @ 1:19 pm

  6. My boss once told me that “Nutela, c’est le genre de produit qu’on peut tartiner directement sur les fesses” and I have to agree with her. Problem is I have such a food-lust for it I can’t evenkeep it in the house. I told my husband to hide the jar we have in the cellar so that I will stop waking up in the middle of the night just to eat it.

    Comment by izoinoan — February 3, 2005 @ 1:39 pm

  7. Some of my best memories of France are creperies, where you could have a three course meal of crepes. I may just have to make some myself today. Unfortunately, I’m afraid they’ll come out like Jim’s chamois leather ones.

    Comment by Bluegrass Mama — February 3, 2005 @ 2:45 pm

  8. Nutella is evil:twisted::twisted:

    Comment by BHR — February 3, 2005 @ 3:00 pm

  9. I had lunch with a co-worker yesterday. She had spent a year in France, right out of high school, and nutella is still something that she can’t live without. She makes crepes for her kids now and puts nutella on top.

    It was kind of funny to have that conversation with her yesterday and then read about nutella today since I’d never heard of it before.

    Comment by Bob — February 3, 2005 @ 3:05 pm

  10. I tend to celebrate the festival of lights by buying a jar of Nutella at the supermarket. If it remains uneaten by the time I get home, I take that as a good omen for the remainder of the evening.

    BTW Green & Blacks chocolate spread kicks Nutella way outta here!!!

    Comment by backroads — February 3, 2005 @ 3:16 pm

  11. In addition to being Candlemas, yesterday was also Groundhog Day in the US and Imbolc if you’re a practicing Pagan/Wiccan.

    While nothing that I know of is eaten in particular to celebrate Groundhog Day, folks who celebrate Imbolc do so by going crazy with dairy foods of all types.

    While not a practitioner myself, any reason to go out and have a nice, thick chocolate milkshake is reason enough for me.

    Comment by Lawrence — February 3, 2005 @ 3:34 pm

  12. Now, now, all you Nutella junkies, celebrating a biculturel Chandeleur (smile).

    Let’s not forget that Nutella is Italian, not French. More info at: http://www.nutellausa.com/history.htm

    L’Amerloque

    Comment by L'Amerloque — February 3, 2005 @ 3:44 pm

  13. Nutella is by far the best thing on earth.

    Comment by pismire — February 3, 2005 @ 4:35 pm

  14. :grin: YUM! Those crepes with Nutella sound really good. And, I adore Pringles chips.

    Comment by Milly — February 3, 2005 @ 5:07 pm

  15. Jim – red top over here was full fat. Red top with silver stripes is semi skimmed. Red top was full fat homogenised milk, whereas silver had a creamy top – but I think all milk is homogenised now, so the red top became redundant.

    I buy green top from the supermarket now, anyway!

    Comment by witho — February 3, 2005 @ 6:29 pm

  16. Nutella with orange marmalade at the same time is my weakness. Mmm. It’s like… chocolate orange.

    I’ve never seen Green & Black’s chocolate spread, but I’ll be looking out for it now.

    Comment by Tim — February 3, 2005 @ 7:56 pm

  17. Mention Nutella to an Italian and his/her eyes will mist over with nostalgic memories of childhood, like Proust’s Madeleines. Renowned Nutellologist, Gigi Padovani (actually a political reporter at La Stampa) reckons its popularity is quintessentially Italian, “a myth of our times”, the “paste of the people” and the ultimate slow food. Nanni Moretti, the film maker, famously took post-coital comfort with a gigantic pot of Nutella in his film, Bianca.

    Comment by Ria — February 3, 2005 @ 8:45 pm

  18. First time commenting. :)

    Mmm, crepes. One of my favorite food memories from Berlin. I also confess to loving Nutella entirely too much. I blame my German class where we spent a lot of time practicing ordering crepes with Nutella for my addiction.

    Comment by Susi — February 4, 2005 @ 12:59 am

  19. Hi! This is my first time commenting, and I adore your blog. I love crepes, and Nutella, but I’ve never thought of combining the two. Luckily we have food day in French Class tomorrow, and I am definitely going to have that. I am even bringing in my jar of Nutella. Thank you.

    Comment by Kellinka — February 4, 2005 @ 3:07 am

  20. Well, I just had a party at home with 30 people (14 kiwis, 8 French and the rest from the rest of the world :grin:) and we made and ate crepes all evening long. I had forgotten that kiwis don’t have any tradition like that and they just LOVED it! Specially the part where you flip the crepe.

    They were some nutella addicts but my favourite one is definitely Crepe Suzette… hummmmmmm:roll:

    Unfortunately coudln’t find any cider here :oops:

    Comment by Maurine au bout du monde — February 4, 2005 @ 6:05 am

  21. I was tempted to buy the 3 kg jar of Nutella in my supermarket, purely because it’s cheaper to buy in bulk you understand. However I was discouraged by the idea of having to scrape out the dregs when the jar is nearly empty, without getting the sticky, chocolatey, hazelnutty melty goo all over my sleeve. I guess it would be feasible in summer when we’re wearing short sleeves again. I could always find someone to lick the goo off my bare arms….

    Come to think of it, it would be even more fun to get completely naked and jump right in the empty jar! Partouze au Nutella, anyone? Ooh-er!

    I’ll have to go and lie down for a bit now…..

    Comment by Antipo Déesse — February 4, 2005 @ 1:06 pm

  22. In about five days after the next google sweep I’ll be n° 1 search result for “Partouze au nutella”. Excellent work

    Comment by petite — February 4, 2005 @ 2:17 pm

  23. I’ve just posted a photo of the giant pot of Nutella I mentioned above.

    (Can’t stand the stuff myself)

    Comment by Ria — February 4, 2005 @ 3:11 pm

  24. The depths to which we scrape to be No.1 on Google search. Just last week I was on the first page when you searched for “Marat Safin’s Girlfriend Pics.” I just couldn’t believe I dropped down to c-list Celebrity Porn status. La Honte!! However, I’m aiming to top the google search for “fornicating parameciums.” Whoops, talking about me here…

    Hmmm. nutella sex parties. Sounds vaguely German, or Swedish… either way, it’s a good niche market. Good job. I’m not eating Nutella right now because I’m addicted to that beurre de chataignes nonsense.

    Comment by nardac — February 4, 2005 @ 4:48 pm

  25. I must say, though it goes against my better judgement, that I am quite familiar with those large tubs of Nutella.

    I say that because I believe that Nutella must be chemically similiar to crack cocaine.

    Comment by Sigmund Carl and Alfred — February 4, 2005 @ 5:52 pm

  26. Why don’t I like Nutella? I tried to, but I haven’t succeeded yet. The crazy thing is that I love chocolate cream, just not Nutella.

    Those large tubs should be illegal, yes. They scare me a little.

    Comment by Jamie — February 6, 2005 @ 10:41 am

  27. i agree with coquette. nutella is like crack.

    Comment by anna — February 6, 2005 @ 9:58 pm

  28. Nutella is the same for me as Fudge is. I really really like it for the first couple bites, and then it just becomes absolutely overwhelming and I can’t do it anymore. My tolerance for things quite that rich stops at about an ounce and a half and then I have to go for a little lie down.

    Comment by Me — February 9, 2005 @ 12:57 am


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