This Section includes almost anything that might be of interest to Berkeley Foodies — reviews of neighborhood food businesses, news about food products or services, even a recipe here and there.
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Today’s food news is all about February 2. Many of us know that date as Groundhog Day based on a 1993 movie starring Bill Murray, titled what else, Groundhog Day. No, we aren’t suggesting that anyone even think about cooking a groundhog, badger or beaver. The movie was based on a German tradition that gained notice in 1887 (actually the tradition started long before 1887) where everyone in Punxsutawney, PA stood around and watched what a local groundhog did when he stuck his head out of a hole in the ground. Yes, it is usually a male, because they wake up from hibernation first and are looking around to see what the competition is for the females that are still asleep. However, to the people of Punxsutawney, the groundhog’s appearance was the way to predict the weather to come. Maybe there just wasn’t that much to do in Punxsutawney, but it turns out that the groundhog was right about 39% of the time! Not bad considering the information we receive today from TV weather people.
Well, February 2 is also Candlemas, also known as LaChandelear, a French Holiday in which you make and eat crepes! February 2 is 40 days after Christmas, and from pre-Christian times, this date marked the celebration of the year’s harvest and the midpoint of winter. The round shape of the crepe represented the circle of life and the coming of spring. The act of eating the crepes represented the tradition of giving food to the poor. Some believe that if it rains on February 2 we will have 40 more days of rain and if it is sunny, winter is almost over. Well, it rained in Berkeley on February 2, so keep your umbrella handy.
Along, with the weather prediction, there is also a tradition that whether you make sweet or savory crepes, you accompany them with a cider drink that includes alcohol, but you have to drink this from a round bowl rather than a cup or glass.
Ready-made Crepes can be found in grocery stores, but they don’t look like they have the delicate quality of those that are made at home or in a restaurant, but we leave it up to you whether or not you want to try them.
Many cookbooks have recipes for crepes, and we recommend the one in Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vol. 1, by Julia Child, Simone Beck and Louisettte Bertholle. They recognize the use of crepes not only as “a festive dessert for Mardi Gras and Candlemas Day, but as a an ”attractive way to turn leftovers or simple ingredients into a nourishing main-course dish.“ Welllllllllllllllllll, so while crepes can have sweet or savory fillings, set aflame (Crepes Suzette), stacked, or rolled, we warn you that you really have to practice making them! Some people even believe that if you celebrate Candlemas, you should flip your homemade crepe while holding a coin in one hand while you flip with the other!
And even though February 2 has passed, you might want to consider a food donation to the poor at any time during the year, particularly while flipping up a stack of crepes.