Sunday, October 02, 2005


waffles!

those who don't believe that waffles fall into the bccy perimeter, oh, think again! even the gloried wikipedia categorizes them under bread.

personally, i'm a big crepe, pancake, and waffle person, but alas mr. right doesn't want them very often. he views them as cold weather food.

so when he mentioned 'em the other day, i went a-ha! and ran out to pick up a classic stovetop belgian waffle iron (properly, a gaufrier). now, these puppies should be made of heavy bright steel or cast iron and have a little thermometer in the handle.

but apparently you can't find those anymore -- all i could come up with even in nyc is the sorrowful nordicware dark aluminum model. sigh.

let's get serious here: as someone who has actually been to belgium (bruges! bruges!) i am well aware that there is no such thing as a belgian waffle.

there are brussels waffles (gaufres to be precise) and liége waffles. the former is raised with yeast and features stiff beaten egg whites, which gives it a light, dry, crunchy texture.

the latter is usually made with beer and no yeast, meaning it has a little more flavor, and is darker and a tad heavier. i think this is more the variety mr. right will prefer.

of course i've been all over the 'net looking for various quality recipes. sadly google drives you to the dumb food network site, where tyler florence's "recipe" basically begins "make up your favorite waffle mix. . . ."

what is the point of this network? so that couch potatoes can watch other people "make" fast food junk while they eat chain pizza with pounds of cheese?

but i digress. when in doubt on matters of antique tradition, of course i do the unfashionable and immediately consult elizabeth david, louis diat, and/or my older-than-i-am (french) copy of larousse.

this is because i like food that actually tastes like something good as described by people who actually know what they are talking about instead of people whose claim to fame is that they can't even follow instructions from a certain classic if overly fussy cookbook. i know: i'm crazy that way.

the larousse is the gold mine here, devoting 2 pages to waffles. it classifies the gaufre as a type of pastry, noting that they were traditionally served as street food during medieval feast days, when the waffle irons were decorated with religious symbols.

and it reminds us that the highest quality waffles were known as métiers, as well as illustrating "waffle molds" for making fritters with waffle batter.

in its fantastic gallicism, it delves into the literary history of the waffle -- often mentioned in poems at the end of the 12th cent. we couldn't forget the hilarious 16th cent. illustration of people eating waffles during mardi gras.

the larousse describes 5 waffle types: brussels (which it calls "dutch" or "northern"), liége, ordinary, filled (with a praline cream!), and vanilla.

what's interesting about the larousse recipes is that they are not exactly of the thinner-pancake-batter type. for example, the liége dough it describes is thick enough to be rolled out and kneaded by hand and is furthermore based in a biga.

the "modern" recipe for vanilla waffles is likewise thick enough to roll out by hand, is raised with eggs and baking soda, and comes with a buttercream frosting recipe! while the "modern" "ordinary" waffle contains no flour and a soft-ball sugar syrup!

oh yeah, i am definitely making a larousse liége-type waffle as soon as the opportunity presents itself. . .and not just your average "2 cups flour, 4 eggs, 1/4 oil, 2 cups milk" type thing.

posted by fortune | 12:30 PM | top | link to this | email this: | links to this post | | 2 comments

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