Food is a quintessential part of any celebration, and Carnival is no exception. Filloas are typically prepared in Galicia around Carnival, although when I was in A Coruna for a fiesta this past summer, there was a vendor making these delicious crepes on a hot stone. (This was actually my first time trying filloas!) Just in time for Mardi Gras, I’ll give you the background story on filloas and share a recipe; the custard filling is an extra treat!
Filloas seem like a fancy name for crepes, right? Filloas are made with flour and water, no butter. Crepes are usually made on a flat hot plate, but in Galicia you will sometimes see a certain tool, called a parrumeira, which aids in crepe making. (If Williams Sonoma ever starts selling these, let me know, but I won’t hold my breath.) There are some areas of Galicia that actually maintain the Celtic tradition of using an actual heated stone, rather than an iron or plate, to make filloas. If you’re like me, and not fortunate enough to have a hot plate or parrumeira at home, a skillet and good wrist technique will work just fine.
Filloas have quite the history; evidence of this treat goes back as far as the Roman Empire. The Romans used flour, honey, milk, spices, and eggs, which are still some of the most common ingredients used today. As the Romans conquered most of Europe, they took their food with them. The Romans pushed tribes, such as the Celts, into smaller and smaller territories. Some of the Celts eventually settled in Northern Spain and Portugal and incorporated their traditions (i.e., cooking on granite).
There are many iterations of filloas recipes floating around, but to make one of my favorites, you’ll need the following:
250 grams flour
1/2 liter milk (I find this makes the filloas tastier than using water)
Zest of lemon
1 tbsp sugar
A pinch of salt
All filled up and ready to be eaten.
First, you’ll want to beat the eggs, sugar, and salt together, then add the milk and lemon zest. After you’re done whisking those ingredients together, it’s time to add the flour little by little. Be sure to break up all clumps – you want a smooth batter, but be careful not to over-beat. Grease a skillet or frying pan over medium heat. Depending on the size of your pan, a ladle full of batter should be plenty to make a thin crepe. Once the filloa is completely cooked through (the edges are a good indicator), carefully remove the filloa and set aside on a plate.
You can eat filloas by themselves, but it’s always more fun to fill them with things. Fruit, peanut butter, nutella…but something more unique that I tried in Spain is an egg-based custard. To make the custard you’ll need:
100 grams sugar
6 egg yolks
1/2 liter milk
50 grams flour
Zest of lemon
Boil the milk and cinnamon stick in a saucepan for 4-5 minutes. Remove the cinnamon stick and allow the milk to cool. Using a separate saucepan, whisk the egg yolks and sugar together. Gradually add the flour, milk, and then add the boiled milk. Whisk together and bring the substance to low heat. Do not allow the mixture to boil! Be sure to stir the entire time, until thickened.
Fill the filloas with the custard and then sprinkle with cinnamon and powdered sugar.
Have you had the opportunity to be overseas for Carnival? If so, how was your experience? Have you tried filloas or any other traditional Carnival/Mardi Gras food? Leave me a comment and let me know!