I studied abroad in Liverpool, England. I lived in a single room on a hallway of first year students where we shared 2 large communal kitchens. Shopping for myself was a grand weekly adventure. The eggs were not refrigerated. The best cookies had the blandest name (digestives!). Peppers were called capsicum and zucchinis were called courgettes. In one of my first weeks I purchased golden syrup thinking it was maple syrup (they are NOT the same). It didn’t occur to me to think it odd that it was so cheap and also that there were not many maple trees in England.
Since I cooked for myself most of the time, I didn’t work as many British delicacies into my diet, but I learned so much more about the other students and their ways. My meals were commented on for having “lots of parts” and always including salads. I observed one student take a baked potato, and then cover it with canned tuna, beans, and ketchup (though this was certainly not the norm).
In Feburary a friend invited me down the hall for “Pancake Day” celebrations. I thought it incredibly odd that my British peers, who did not have an abundance of maple syrup and did not tend to indulge in large, sweet breakfasts, had an entire day that they dedicated to eating sweet, sticky stacks of pancakes (it took a while longer for me to realize this was the same as our Fat Tuesday). But I was beyond excited for the meal, and looked forward to it all day. I was quietly surprised when I was served the most delicate crepe, with a squeeze of lemon juice and dusting of powdered sugar. It was fantastic, and one of my best food memories from the whole semester.
That was seven years ago, and it took until yesterday for me to tackle making crepes on my own. Even though they were made for me in a dorm kitchen, they have been on my “to cook” list for so long the pressure had built up and it seemed like a daunting project. I went a savory route and used the recipe from My Paris Kitchen for buckwheat crepes. The batter was a simple mix of flour, salt, water, and eggs that needed an hour rest. I don’t have a crepe pan (and will never buy one), and just used a large nonstick pan. The first two were ugly, but the great thing with crepes is you make them one at a time so there are many chances to perfect your process. Last night I was prouder of that stack of crepes than anything else I’ve done in 2015. As a one time crepe maker I don’t have a recipe to share yet, but just wanted to share a story and encourage you to tackle the long time food projects on your list (they’re probably not as hard as you think).