My friend Didier Frayssou, a wine master who can match any dish to its soul-mate wine, has a quality I adore in French men: a sophisticated palate and a love of his mom's home cooking. I don't think I'd known him five minutes before he started telling me about his mother's farçous, a type of crepe or galette that's loaded with greens, most especially Swiss chard. Didier comes from Laguiole in the Auvergne, but farçous are a staple throughout Southwest France, where all the moms have their own way of making them.
In French homes, farçous are a robust main course, most often served with a salad. Served as supper, the pancakes are usually fairly big, sometimes even as large as a skillet, but they can be made smaller (my preference) and served as an hors d'oeuvre, starter, or side dish. And while I'm sure that moms all over France insist that their combination of chard and herbs is the best (if not the only acceptable one), I'm equally sure that thrifty cooks vary the recipe without apology, adding whatever herbs they can snip from the garden or scavenge from the refrigerator bin and opting for another onion instead of a shallot if that's what they have on hand. I like the addition of parsley and chives to the pancakes, but if you've got rosemary or thyme instead, or if you prefer basil or sage, feel free to play around. I'm sure that somewhere in the rule book it says that farçous can only be made with Swiss chard, but spinach, however unorthodox, is also awfully good.
This makes a lot of pancakes, but they freeze perfectly, so I always make the full recipe. If you think this is going to be too much for you, cut the recipe in half and use 1 egg and 1 yolk.
From Around My French Table: More Than 300 Recipes from My Home to Yours by Dorie Greenspan. Copyright © 2010 Dorie Greenspan. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All Rights Reserved.
"My mother taught me that food was fuel," says writer Elissa Altman. "That food was dangerous. That food was the enemy." As Altman's mother grows older, Altman is finding it difficult to get her to eat.