When it comes to sweet treats, few things can compare to the indulgence of a crepe. These thin, delicate pancakes are made from a batter of flour, eggs, milk and butter, then cooked on a hot griddle until they become thin and crispy.
They can be filled with a variety of sweet spreads, fruits and toppings, making them a popular choice for breakfast, dessert or anytime in between.
Madame Martine Lyon, a French teacher at Dubuque Hempstead High School, has been sharing the joy of crepes with her students for years, giving them the opportunity to create and enjoy these delectable treats. Lyon’s passion for her culture led her to find ways to implement it into high school classes.
“I started making crepes with my students at Wahlert, where I first taught, when the FACS teacher offered to switch rooms with me on Mardi Gras,” Lyon said. “I am forever grateful to her for this wonderful idea. My students look forward to Crepes Day every year.”
Lyon’s mother’s influence on her love of cooking, and the importance of Fat Tuesday in her family’s culture is evident.
“My mom would make crepes and beignets (fritters) on Fat Tuesday every year,” Lyon said. “She was a fantastic cook, so everything she made was delicious. My favorite crepe has a little bit of granulated sugar in it and some jelly.”
Once the crepes are cooked, the possibilities for fillings and toppings are endless. They can be filled with traditional spreads such as Nutella, jam or caramel, or with bananas, whipped cream or ice cream.
“I had so much fun decorating my crepe with strawberries and jams this year, just the way that Madame showed me,” said Loryn Link, a Hempstead senior. “It’s a really festive occasion, as everyone enters the classroom with a happy spirit. We owe a debt of gratitude to Madame for creating such a special day for us.”
In French culture, crepes are a beloved part of daily life, often enjoyed as a mid-day snack or after-dinner treat. The versatility of crepes has made them a staple of French cuisine, and they commonly are served at street festivals and other special events throughout the country.
“I love seeing my students learning to make crepes and creating their own favorite crepe with all the toppings I bring in. Nutella anyone? Whipped cream, strawberries … ” Lyon said.
After 34 years of teaching in Dubuque schools, Lyon’s retirement marks the end of an era. Her annual Crepe Day will remain a cherished memory for her students. It is not just the delicious food that makes the day special, but also the sense of community and joy that fills the classroom.
Lyon’s commitment to sharing her love of French culture has left a lasting impact on generations of students who will remember the fun and laughter they shared while making and eating crepes. Her dedication to her students, her passion for French culture and her infectious personality will be missed by all who had the privilege of knowing her.
“She can always brighten everyone’s day, and we can always warrant a quick laugh. I am sad to see her going into retirement and will miss her very much,” said Dawson Fish, a junior at Hempstead. “I am glad she is taking steps that are in her best interests though. We all wish her the best of luck in her future adventures that are yet to come.”
As Lyon embarks on the next stage of her life, her legacy will live on through the countless students she has touched throughout the years, inspiring them to embrace new cultures, try new things and pursue their passions with dedication and enthusiasm.
Madame Lyon’s Crepes
cups flour1 tablespoon sugar
teaspoon baking powder
teaspoon salt2 eggs2 cups milk
teaspoon vanilla extract2 tablespoons vegetable oil
teaspoon butter (for greasing the pan)
In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside.
In another bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, vanilla extract and vegetable oil. Pour the milk mixture into the flour mixture and mix well until there are no lumps. The batter should be smooth.
Preheat a frying pan on medium heat for three to four minutes. Add the butter to the pan and let it melt. Using a ladle, pour the batter into the pan and rotate it immediately to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook the crepe until the edges start to turn brown. Use a plastic spatula to flip the crepe and cook for another minute.
Place the crepe on a plate and repeat the process for the remaining batter. Serve the crepes with your favorite toppings.
• Make sure the pan is warm enough before adding the batter. This will prevent the crepes from sticking to the pan. Use a non-stick pan or add a little butter to prevent the crepes from sticking.
• Add milk to the batter if it’s too thick.
Saanvi Ram is a freelance writer from Dubuque.