In Praise of the Outstanding Versatility of Waffles
To say nothing of the fact that they're delicious
Several years ago, I was visiting friends in Eugene, Oregon when I visited a local restaurant on their recommendation. The eatery in question, Off the Waffle, specialized in Liége waffles, offered with both sweet and savory toppings. Reader, I ate many waffles during my stay there.
But eating waffles inevitably brings another question to mind: just how did waffles become a culinary mainstay? With pancakes and omelettes, for instance, it’s pretty easy to see how an enterprising cook would come up with them. Waffles, on the other hand? That’s a conundrum for the ages.
All of which makes a new Anne Ewbank-penned article at Atlas Obscura so useful, as it tracks the complex history of waffles across the centuries. The article notes that waffles are over 600 years old, based on the earliest written records of the dish to have survived to the present day. Originally, Ewbank writes, the process of making waffles was simple, and involved a cast-iron pan with a particular pattern on it.
Since then, waffles have evolved and taken on different characteristics depending on the region that’s adapted them. Ewing points to pandan waffles, which originated in Vietnam, as one particular example. These are far from the only variations on a delicious theme rooted in geography; there’s also the Liége waffles mentioned earlier, which differ from Brussels waffles in a number of ways, including the dough used.
Those variations are just the tip of a waffle-themed iceberg, and that’s before getting into other culinary mainstays that involve waffles in non-breakfast situations — with chicken and waffles being an especially tasty example of this. Could the waffle stealthily be one of the most versatile foods out there? The mind boggles.
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