In Russia, they used to believe that the French did not eat buckwheat but fed it to the frogs. A rumor circulated in the early 20th, during the “Dictatorship of Military Communism” (Karl Marx’ concept implemented by Lenin) that one day Konstantin Stanislavsky, the renown theater director, received a parcel from Paris delivered by a stranger. Those were dangerous times when there was virtually no communication with anyone outside of Russia. There was also virtually no food – the population was starving. Thus, when Stanislavsky opened the anonymous package and found a bag of buckwheat with no note of explanation, it was logically assumed that his grandmother, the French actress Marie Varlet, whom he had never met, suddenly got compassionate regarding her abandoned family’s plight and sent them some food. Buckwheat was cooked the traditional Russian way, as kasha, and instantly devoured.
A few days later, a letter from Paris caught up with the parcel. In it, a notary notified the family that M-me Varlet had passed away, and, according to her will and testament, was cremated, the ashes to be buried next to her Russian husband in Moscow. Since there was no way to transport the ashes in their natural condition, the distinguished maitre mixed them into buckwheat, a grain not fit for human consumption, which should be delivered to the family shortly. Silent scene. Curtain.
All of this is total hogwash, of course, since buckwheat was introduced to France from the East around 12th century, way before it made its way to Russia. It became popular in Brittany where they called it sarrasin or ble noir (black wheat), ground it into flour, like wheat, and made crepes. Yes, the first crepes were made of buckwheat and called galettes. Wheat crepes that we know today have not appeared until the beginning of the 20th century. Incidentally, the word itself comes from Latin crispa, which doesn’t mean crisp – it means curled, so the first crepes were actually curled, or rolled. Traditionally, the wheat flour crepes are sweet, and the buckwheat galettes are savory (Sources: http://www.moniquescrepes.com/a-brief-history-of-crepes/, http://www.excusemyfrench.co.nz/a-little-crepe-history/).
I love using buckwheat flour. My grandmother used to make retchene latkes (buckwheat pancakes) for Chanukkah – those are coming up in a few months together with the rest of my Chanukkah recipes. Buckwheat is gluten free and has a plethora of nutrients. It also has a pleasant nutty taste, so who says it must necessarily be savory? I want to make it sweet, and I will, with lots of blueberries and raw organic honey. You can use agave to make it vegan. To enhance the nutty flavor, there is coconut milk. I used a real egg, but you can substitute to make it vegan. I also added just a little olive oil and a pinch of baking powder.
Whisk the egg and oil, add coconut milk and honey, and whisk it all together to aerate it. When you see bubbles, add this mixture to buckwheat flour, and mix gently but thoroughly. Don’t forget the baking powder.
Now, just throw those beautiful plump and juicy blueberries in and mix them with the rest of it. No need to squash them – they’ll pop on their own once you start frying.
Do you see all this liquid? That’s not grease, Beautiful People, as my frying pan was barely misted with oil, as usual. That’s delicious blueberry juice! So you get them nicely brown on both sides and remove them straight to a plate so as not to lose any of that precious juice.
They’ll never be golden brown – they are, after all, sarrasins, or Saracens, dark by definition. They are rather purplish brown, even though I dusted them with powdered xylitol, and with chocolate syrup, they look even darker, yet become even more delicious!
- 1 cup buckwheat flour
- 1 cup coconut milk
- 1 cup fresh blueberries (if using frozen blueberries, reduced coconut milk)
- 1/3 honey or agave
- 1 egg or substitute
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- Mix buckwheat flour with baking powder, put aside.
- Whisk egg with oil, add coconut milk and honey, whisk together until aerated well.
- Add wet ingredients to dry, mix thoroughly. Gently mix blueberries in.
- Preheat shallow frying pan, lightly mist with oil. Fry pancakes on both sides until brown. Blueberries will burst creating a caramel-like sauce.
- Plate with sauce, dust with powdered sugar or xylitol. Serve with chocolate syrup, honey, or agave.