The lines can be long and the weather can be miserably hot, windy or rainy, but that doesn't keep fans of crepes away from the La Petite Crêperie food stand at Lexington Farmers Market.
"I hate to see the lines and I wish we could make them faster, but that's the nature of it," crepe maker Shannon Arnold said.
Three seasons ago, in 2010, Arnold set up a couple of tables and a griddle at her first Saturday market and was "totally unprepared."
"I ran out of batter in about 45 minutes," she said. "I wasn't sure how many people were familiar with street crepes, but the response was unbelievable."
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Arnold patterned her business after the street crepes in Paris, France, and she perfected her recipe by experimenting with lots of kinds of batter. As a Sister Cities exchange student in 1990 and a traveler to Paris many times, Arnold "ate a lot of crepes," she said.
She taught French at The Lexington School and Sayre School, and "made hundreds and hundreds of crepes for my students," she said.
When she started selling crepes, they were the sweet ones — Nutella, chocolate, cinnamon and lemon. Now she sells ham and cheese and veggie crepes, too.
She uses fresh vegetables, and the milk and eggs for the batter come from other market vendors. La Petite Crêperie serves about 200 to 300 crepes at the Saturday market ranging in price from $5 to $7.
When the farmers market reopened in April, Arnold had a completely new set-up. Her brother Bill Cloyd created a rolling kitchen for her at his business, Newton's Attic. It has four griddles, running water, a cooler and plenty of space for working. The griddles are cast iron.
"I haven't had much luck with anything but cast iron," Arnold said. "Once you get it seasoned, you don't have a problem with sticking."
Part of the enjoyment of the crepes is watching them being made. Arnold has an assistant, Jackie Wilsun, and sometimes Arnold's husband, Mark, helps.
"He loves making crepes. He takes a lot of pride in his crepes. He doesn't believe in serving one that's not beautiful."
The trick to a perfect crepe is the stick. "If you go to France, that's what they use. We really don't have a name for that. Just the stick." It is used to spread the batter thinly into a circle on the griddle.
The new mobile kitchen makes it convenient for Arnold to be at the farmers market three days a week. In addition to the Saturday market, she's at the Broadway/Maxwell market on Thursdays and Southland Drive on Sundays. The wait for crepes on those days is minimal.
"Our best compliment is if someone says 'this reminds me of Paris,' which is our goal," Arnold said. "We have different water, wheat and milk, and they will never taste the same, but if it reminds them of Paris, that pretty much keeps me working."