King of the Galettes

There can be only one, it turns out

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The Galette Supreme

By Bella Dally-Steele

Anyone unfortunate enough to have studied French will tell you that the country’s gastronomic vocabulary is a minefield of homophones. Baguette, in particular, is a dangerous one; deploy it haphazardly and you might find yourself talking about not a loaf of bread, but a wand, a chopstick, or a phallus.

Perhaps the most tragic case of French culinary doppelgängers is that of the “galette,” which denotes three distinct dishes that each take the form of a “galet,” a flat pebble, like a skipping rock. Unfortunately, while each delicacy is true to its moniker, a taste will quickly reveal that not all galettes are created equal.

In defense of the two lesser galettes – the admittedly scrumptious salted butter cookies and the galette des rois, or king's cake in New Orleans-speak – few dishes, regardless of title, could hope to rival the elegant simplicity of galettes bretonnes. The Celtic sister of traditional French crêpes, these galettes stand out from their sugary namesakes not only because of their savory nature, but also their versatility.

While traditional French crêpes are frequently used in savory crêpes (like the classic ham, egg and cheese) in most parts of the country, the sweet batter often clashes with the garnishes. Such is not the case in the northwestern region of Brittany, where dinner crêpes are universally replaced by galettes bretonnes, uniquely engineered for savory recipes by replacing the white crêpe flour with a hardy buckwheat that pairs seamlessly with any combination of salty fillings. Chestnuts and salad; sausages and seared potatoes; freshly caught salmon and cream cheese; hot dogs and a healthy dose of mustard. You name it, it should be folded into a galette.

Unlike galette des rois and galette cookies, galettes bretonnes are only readily available in Brittany, with the exception of specialty crêperies in larger cities. While it is the buckwheat flour that defines the galette, this treat’s real secret ingredient may well be its scarcity. 🇫🇷

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