Cooking up a taste of France She returns home by making crepes.

Posted: June 12, 2005

Every Saturday morning, May through November, Sylvie Galiazzi travels to her native France.

By 2 o'clock, she's back home in Collingswood, where she has lived for six years with husband Mark and daughters Caroline Louise and Josette.

OK, as much as she would like to at times, Galiazzi really doesn't jet off to France - although in July she visits family in Evreux, a town in Normandy liberated by American soldiers shortly after D-Day, and returns again in November for the new-wine festivals.

Most times, though, she's happy to stay in Collingswood - now her favorite place to live despite having told a real estate agent that she would live anywhere but there - and tend to her backyard garden, the place that most reminds her of France.

"In France," Galiazzi said, "life revolves around the garden."

But when she's making crepes, she said, "I really do feel as though I'm back in my native Normandy and Brittany, the land of my ancestors."

Galiazzi, 41 - whose accent is still tres Francais after more than 15 years in les Etats-Unis - has been making crepes each Saturday morning since 2001 at the Collingswood Farmers Market.

"Making crepes - it's in my blood. . . . They're the unofficial fast food of Normandy and Brittany," said Galiazzi, still a French citizen. "My grandmother made crepes, and I learned how to make them from her."

The theatrical element also keeps her going.

"I like putting on a show, and people love seeing crepes made the authentic way, that is, the French way," said Galiazzi, who started out with two tables and now has more than a dozen.

The music from the stall where she makes more than 200 crepes each weekend, the cafe tables, each with an umbrella, not to mention the crepes, make the market by the PATCO High-Speed Line an outpost of France.

But there is one big downside. "Sylvie's crepes are so addictive," said Pam Ciervo, who coordinates the weekly market.

Galiazzi, who grew up in Normandy before moving to Paris to become a runway model, never set out to make les crepes for paying customers.

In 1988, she arrived in the United States to learn English by working as an au pair in Nyack, N.Y., before heading off to Australia.

She never did make it to Australia; she was having too much fun in Manhattan, where she continued to model.

On a whim, she accompanied a friend to hear a band play and accidentally spilled a drink on her future husband, the bass player.

After they married, they moved to South Jersey and Galiazzi commuted to Manhattan to work as a bridal fashion model. She also became a hostess at the Ritz-Carlton Grill Room in Philadelphia, a job she still holds.

About five years ago, when she bid au revoir to her modeling career, Galiazzi woke up at 4 a.m., determined to be a crepe maker.

"I had a vision, and it was so real," she said. "I was going to make crepes at the farmers market."

Unfortunately, between the dream and reality was a lot of bureaucratic red tape.

"Sylvie contacted me just before the market's second season," Ciervo said. "I told her exactly what she would have to do. It's a very complicated process, but Sylvie was persistent. The market opened in early May, and by early July, Sylvie was selling crepes."

Eventually, she hopes to open a creperie on Collingswood's restaurant row, along Haddon Avenue, but for the time being, she enjoys making crepes at the market and being a part of the community.

"Making crepes is something that I can do and do well," Galiazzi said. "Even after all the crepes I have made, I still love it when people tell me they taste so good."

Contact suburban staff writer Louise Harbach at 856-779-3861 or lharbach@phillynews.com.

If You Go

What: Collingswood Farmers Market.

When: 8 a.m. to noon Saturdays through mid-November.

Where: The PATCO High-Speed Line station at Irvin Avenue off Haddon Avenue.

Phone: 856-854-0720.

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