Thursday, March 10, 2005

My heart is with the Belgians...

when it comes to waffles. Or not really. The 'Belgian waffle' that I like is not authentically Belgian at all, I found out. I guess the authentic Belgian waffle is more like a cookie and doesn't have that heavenly combination of airy and crispy that I love so much. It figures, since I had my first Belgian waffle in Japan, and Japan is the land of fusion cuisine, where authenticity is tossed by the way side to suit the Japanese trends and tastes. Belgian waffles are THE waffles in Japan, and I didn't know that there were any other kind of waffle until I came to the US and saw Eggo-waffles. Those are not the waffles of my childhood, and they will never have a place in my heart. Interestingly, Belgian waffles are relative newbies in the US waffle scene, according to the waffleweek.com website. I don't know, the flat waffles just don't do it for me...

waffles

I love all things crispy, and the Belgian waffle can have the perfect ratio of crispness to substance (when done right - or right for me). I make mine with mega-super whipped egg whites and some flour with baking powder. I follow Alicia's recipe fairly closely, but I do add a lot more vanilla than she suggests. My secret, though, is that I super-bake 'em. I let my waffle maker beep at least twice and I make sure that the bases are paper thin & crispy like corn flakes and the crests are sturdy and hollow enough to produce an echo when I do my knock/tap test. That's how crispy I like them.

The Papa Bear has recently become quite smitten with my waffle maker, and he's been making waffles for the little sisters on a number of occasions. I was recently hanging around the house when he was making them and was lucky enough to partake. I eat mine with whipped cream and sliced fruits, which the Papa Bear and the little sisters have also adopted. He infuses each of his waffles with love for his daughters, and as they say, the secret ingredient for the best dishes is always love. It's clear how much the little girls enjoy the waffles by the amount they consume and the smiles it puts on their faces.

waffles2

The Papa Bear's modification is to use Crisco instead of melted butter, and he doesn't give it the two, three beep baking time - these waffles were airy like the best American Belgian waffles and tasty in their own right - no doubt - but a bit on the pale side without that crunch/crisp factor I've come to love so much in the waffles of my childhood. Favorite foods are so closely intertwines with our own experiences and memories, and I guess my heart is with the Japanese Belgians...

4 comments:

Uchipu said...

So, after reading these meticulously written explanations of food, I thought I'd drop in more than one or two sentence "comments".

My obsession for a while now, has been a perfect cup of espresso. Some uncultured people may call it expresso, but by any means, it ain't "expresso". It is Espresso.

After reading this article in the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2005/03/09/dining/09bari.html), I too yearn for a day that Baristas become hot commodities, a career, where I can go to a good Italian restaurant, and finish a perfect plate of beef cheek raviolis with mint with a properly made Espresso.

Go to Starbucks, go to your local coffee house, go to the most revered Italian restaurant in New York City, and you're still not going to get that perfect cup. It's usually made by the bus boys or the wait staff, and it comes out like a cup of over brewed coffee...no wonder people cringe at the thought of Espresso!!

I've only had one chance to have a properly brewed Espresso...and it was in Canada. You see, Canada, unlike the US, is still a country accepting immigrants from various nations. Go to downtown Toronto, and you'll find the BEST Vietnamese Sandwich. Yes, I'll challenge that spot in SFO with my sandwiches from Co-Yen. Go to Woodbridge, a thriving suburbia consisting of many first generation Italians, you'll find the best gelateria...and with it Espresso.

Great Espresso will not be bitter. It will have all the nutty rich aroma of the best coffee. That wonderful smell you inhale as you walk into a coffee house - is all in one cup. All good Espressos will have creamy foam on top. The foam so thick, you'd think it was cappucino. The foam is a result of oils from the coffee grinds. The foam will gently deliver what packs underneath - a POW of earthy coffee. The coffee would also have a natural sweetness, perhaps triggered partially by the acidity of the grinds, that makes sugar unwanted. Never add sugar to a properly made Espresso - your Barista will thank you for that too.

Proper timing, proper technique, proper way to 'load' the grinds...all these result in a great cup of Espresso.

Is it time that we learned to appreciate Espresso as a drink that actually takes technique and knowledge, rather than just something you shove down to keep you awake after a thick meal?

Angelotte. said...

Just wanted to note that actually belgians know two kinds of waffles, the heavenly wonderful oh so yummie crispy kind you speak of are known as "brusselse wafels" here, the flat kind the US adapted are, i think, the other kind, "luikse wafels", also nice but not nearly as good as the brussels kind ;)

Dam Rite Im A WAFFLELOVER :D said...

you are an actual god!
i also have a waffle fetish.
seriously, where have u been all my life?!?
i love you nd ur waffles already babe :D
xxxxxxxxxx

i lve waffles espicialy the belgian ones said...

omg this article was amazing i nearly shot my load ....... of waffle mix all over the kitchen but truly truly amazing deseves a writhing award or summink ( luv ya katie my waffle freind )