It might have been during the recent Family Invasion Week that She Who Must Be Obeyed suddenly decided that we needed a new Household Appliance.
At one point during the week, she had cooked up a big Mess o’ Pancakes. Pancakes are a very occasional treat at Chez Elisson, and there is no better time to have them than when there is a house full of people. Hot off the griddle, slathered with just-melting pats of fresh creamery butter and drizzled with pure maple syrup...ahhhh, that is heaven, bruthuh.
And it was likely with the warm smell of those flapjacks drifting through the house that the idea crystallized in her mind. That smell sparked a mysterious mental connection, perhaps a reminiscence of the free continental breakfasts at the Cheap-Ass Lodging House at which we stayed on our last trip to Savannah.
“Honey, don’t you think we need a waffle iron?”
“Why…yes! I believe we do!” So easy was it to gain my assent to this Essential Acquisition.
Understand this: I grew up in a Waffle-Free Household.
Back in my snot-nose days, we had no waffle iron in the house. In the New York suburbs of the 1950’s and ’60’s, Waffle Houses were thin on the ground; nay, nonexistent. Sometime in the 1960’s, we had the International House of Pancakes – but who orders waffles in a Pancake House, anyway? It’s perverse. To us, the very concept of waffles was just this side of being alien. Pancakes, si, waffles, no, in Chez Eli.
In 1964, the World’s Fair came to New York, and among the Exotic International Foods that came along with it were Belgian Waffles. Big, inch thick waffles, sprinkled with powdered sugar and topped with a huge dollop of whipped cream, amidst which was nestled a strawberry. But I did not have One Fucking Belgian Waffle in the two years that the Fair sat in Flushing Meadow.
[As an aside, do you know what they call Belgian Waffles in Belgium?
No, really. Actually, they spell it wafels, and they are everywhere, in a seemingly infinite variety. Honkin’ thick ones; thin, crisp ones; syrup-encrusted stroopwafels. Belgium is Waffle Heaven, friends. Getting a wafel in Belgium is easier than buying a Coca-Cola here.]
Of course, as a result, I lusted after waffles. It was more than just the elusiveness, the unobtainability, the foreignness. Fact is, they tasted damn good. Like pancakes...but with syrup traps!
So we went to the local Household Articles Shoppe. It boiled down to a choice between three irons: a rather flimsy-looking Cuisinart that made thin, round Waffle-House style cakes; an Emeril Lagasse model with interchangeable plates – you could make waffles, pizzelles, and panini-style sandwiches, but each plate bore an insufferable “BAM!” imprint; and a solid-looking Krups machine that had the deep plates needed to make Belgian waffles. The only Krups left was the floor model; we snatched it up.
And, finally, this morning She Who Must Be Obeyed and I put the iron though its paces.
Here’s a useful All-Purpose Waffle Recipe:
2½ cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
4 tbsp granulated sugar
3 eggs, separated
2 cups milk
½ cup vegetable oil
Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder, and sugar. That’s what the standard instructions tell you, anyway. Screw that. I just aerate the flour with a dry wire whisk before I measure it, and I use the same whisk to mix the dry ingredients.
Combine the egg yolks and the milk: mix well and add to the dry ingredients. Add the vegetable oil. [Today I used only ¼ cup of oil and it worked just fine.] Mix well.
Beat the egg whites in a separate bowl (add just a pinch of salt) until they form soft peaks. Fold the egg whites into the rest of the batter.
Heat up your waffle iron and you’re good to go. I found that with our model, four minutes gave us waffles that were crispy and brown on the outside, yet just perfect in the center – not overdone. You will, of course, need to adjust the timing to your own machine’s needs and to your taste.
To these fine waffles, all that was necessary to add was a little dab of fresh butter and some 100% pure maple syrup. But waffles are extremely versatile, and you can top ’em with almost any damn thing you like. Fresh fruit? Honey? Confectioner’s sugar? Go wild! It’s your waffle!
So this morning She Who Must Be Obeyed and I were sitting in shul, and our friends Gary and JoAnn came in and joined us, sitting next to us in our pew. We exchanged greetings, and then JoAnn asked, “So, what have you-all been doing this morning?”
“We made waffles.”
JoAnn leered at me. “So that’s what they’re calling it these days.”
It was obvious right away that in her house, “making waffles” has an entirely different, far more lascivious meaning. Gary’s lewd wink confirmed my speculation.
“Yeah, we ‘made waffles,’ too.”
“Well, then, I guess we ‘made waffles’ and then we made waffles…”
Gotta love them waffles!