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woensdag 19 februari 2014

Waffles - What's up with that ?

When you’re wandering through Bruges (or Belgium in general) you can’t miss the waffle-stands. The aroma gets in your nose, even when you’re still a fair distance away from the stand. But it smells so good!
Some fun facts before setting your teeth in our national food maybe? Ok, here we go.

There is proof that the waffle was first seen somewhere in the 9th century. Not as the waffle we know today, but as a communion wafer. The wafers were round and considerably larger than the ones used for communion. Most of them had pictures of Jesus on it. There are of waffle-irons found proving this fact. It was not until the 12th century it was given a name: “oublie”.

An anonymous manuscript (Le Ménagier de Paris) of the late 14th century held the very first recipe for waffles. It was a dude who wrote everything down so his wife would get it right. But, it was funny to know they used a cloth drenched in oil to make sure the waffle wouldn’t stick to the iron!
He wrote “Beat some eggs in a bowl, season with salt and add wine. Toss in some flour, and mix. Then fill, little by little, two irons at a time with as much of the paste as a slice of cheese is large. Then close the iron and cook both sides. If the dough does not detach easily from the iron, coat it first with a piece of cloth that has been soaked in oil or grease”.
Brussels Waffle
But, talking about “Toss in some flour…”, you can get really funky waffles if you don’t use the correct measures. It wasn’t until the 16th century sugar was sometimes used.
It took up until 1958 at Expo 58 in Brussels before Maurice Vermersch introduced the Belgian waffles we know today. When he wanted to go to the US with the recipe another salesman beat him to it.
There are also different kinds of waffles.
The waffles in 1958 were Brussels waffles. These are lighter, crisper and have larger pocket compared to other waffles. They’re rectangular shaped and dusted with confectioner’s sugar.

With Brussels waffles you can ask for whipped cream, soft fruit or chocolate topping. Mostly sold in tearooms.
The Liège waffle is richer, denser, sweeter and chewier. The dough used is thicker, sometimes chuncks of pearl sugar are added, so it’s really a sweet, hearty waffle! It’s these you’ll find with street vendors.
Liège Waffle
One last word on the toppings you can add. You can go nuts in this topic! Chocolate sauce (or spread), whipped cream, ice cream, fruits (strawberries is really worth trying), jam or… my personal favorite: Speculoos spread !
Speculoos is a thin, crunchy cookie. Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cardamom and white pepper are used to give this cookie a really good and special flavor. It really can’t be compared to anything else, but if you really want to, gingerbread comes the closest.
And we made a spread of this!
Having a waffle with this spread on it: heaven ! But be aware, you’ll stand out as a tourist. If a Flemish (or Belgian) eats a Liège Waffle out in public, they do not put any topping on it, or a Belgian flag! But, of course, you can indulge yourself any way you like.