Welcome to another edition of food holidays at the Guide. We here at the Single Dad’s Guide to Life believe in bringing to you the best of all things food. Whether that means food festivals like the one they had at Knott’s, giving you different food recipes to try out like eclairs or ancient fake food history like that of the hot dog, we believe in bringing the most important food information directly to you.
For those of you who celebrated the Bacon this last week, we hope you enjoyed a good slice on us. And just as a reminder, August 25th is still National Banana Split Day so go out and get yourself those delicious three scoops on top of halved bananas. You will thank me, even if your calorie count will explode. But hey! Plan to fail! Or something like that anyway. But we leave all of that good stuff aside to celebrate the next in food holiday deliciousness: the waffle. We celebrate National Waffle Day Thursday, August 24th.
As far as my experience with the waffle, I distinctly remember my Great Aunt. My Great Aunt was a strong woman who loved her family. She never had any kids of her own so she loved to spoil her brother’s kids. This meant that my mom and her five brothers and sisters all got plenty of spoiling whenever she was around. And what’s even crazier is that the spoiling did not stop once her brother’s kids had kids of their own. The grand kids needed spoiling as well. So whenever our family traveled north to visit my dad’s family, which was pretty much a yearly visit, we were required to stop off in Sacramento and see my Great Aunt Jessie.
There are so many different memories of this time bouncing around my brain, including one week eating two meals for every meal that week. I cannot tell you what my stomach was doing with the food but it seemed to be storing it somewhere. I remember visiting Sutter’s Fort and learning about the history. Going to Old Town Sacramento was also a yearly treat as we would see the train station. And one time I made it out to the state fair. But there was nothing, and I mean nothing, like getting these Belgian Waffles that I would order when we went to the Waffle House, just outside of Sacramento. These light and fluffy, waffles were the perfect mixture of crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. And when you added a dollop of butter and a sprinkling of syrup and it was pure food heaven.
Jessie Early probably first helped me establish my love of various types of food. She would love to spoil us. She found delight in delighting us. And when it came to the food we would eat, it was no different. She wanted to see the smile on our faces as we would try out some new and delicious treat. She was always encouraging me to step out and try something new, and she spared no expense. And for her, payment was the smiling faces that she saw on the other end.
I was so sad that my aunt passed away the year before I transferred to UC Berkeley. A good portion of my reason for going was looking forward to just being able to take a two hour drive and visit her in Sacramento. I know she lived to 98, a good long life. But she was the most amazing and kind woman that I had ever met. And she loved her family. I miss her and truly felt like I missed out on something once she passed on. This post I dedicate to her memory.
The Great Fake History Of The Waffle –
As with all things at the Guide, our crack research team went out to explore the depths of the deep web and go into those ancient artifact centers (libraries) to bring the best/worst of information about some amazing foods. We would spare no expense in getting to the bottom of all things waffle. Which basically means we paid our staff nothing, but I digress. And as with all of our food holidays, we bring that food history directly to your table, or maybe phone. I guess it depends on the device you are using to read this. We bring you the fake real story behind the fake holiday. (This is the most convoluted sentence I have ever written.) So welcome to the fake history of the waffle!
To get to the history of the waffle, we first needed to go back a little further and see where they came up with the idea of the hot cooking iron on both sides. From our research, as best as we can piece it together, sometime in the early ninth century A.D. there was an iron worker named Stumpy McWaffle who originated cooking with hot irons when he was working on a cross for a monk named Bradley Wafer. The monk came to the iron worker to be able to get some steel work for crosses at the church and brought the unleavened dough with him while he was on his way to another event.
Stumpy was never one for cleaning his steel shop and so when the monk tripped on one of his pieces of metal on the floor the sack of dough for communion went flying into the air and onto one of the hot irons leaving an odd design on one side of the bread. So they decided to take another piece of hot metal to leave matching designs on the unleavened bread.
Bradley nervously brought this large chunk of bread cooked on hot metal irons to the communion ceremony that Sunday and the priest gave him a stern look when he saw these ornate designs in the unleavened bread. He was going to have to give Mr. Wafer a stern talking to. But when he saw the smiled on the people’s faces after giving them the bread, he thought it must have been a miracle sent from God. So when he asked Bradley what happened, he told him about tripping at the iron man’s house. The monk apologized but the priest said there was no need and said they would dedicate the wafers after Bradley’s name.
They went on making these wafers this way for a long time, but as you know with all things, it’s only a matter of time before someone else wants to experiment. And so, approximately 5 hundred years later, one of the great, great, great, great, great grandchildren of Stumpy named Marcel McWaffle decided to play around with the irons that he had and see if he could change up the bread recipe. While he liked the crispy nature of the bread, he was unhappy with the fact that it was crispy all the way through. And so he figured he needed to mess around with the recipe.
So Marcel started experimenting. But being the typical French jerk that he was he decided he would leave the recipe to his wife to screw up so no one could blame him for the bread going wrong for communion. When really, all he wanted to do is make something entirely different. But Marcel’s wife was too smart for him. So she decided to leave the recipe and blame him for it in a manuscript. She sent the recipe to the local gossip, but it got lost in all of the papers. And a night of rain washed away the author of the manuscript. So Marcel never faced blame for messing with communion recipes.
Thankfully Marcel left us a great early recipe for a waffle. This, of course, was the eggier variant of the waffle we have today without any of the added sugars that we now come to associate with waffle dough. Eventually they would end up adding sugars to this recipe to give it a sweeter taste. But that wouldn’t come until the 18th Century when there was another McWaffle who revolutionize the taste of the waffle.
Wilhelm Souter McWaffle had decided he would leave his family iron works and decided to become a chef. They had passed the recipe for this tasty bread down from generation to generation. And so he frequently cooked it up for his family. But Wilhelm wanted to branch out into pastries and was so excited when the price of sugar had rapidly come down as a result of being able to extract cane sugar rather than having to do it all with beets. So when Wilhelm got his first batch of sugar from the Caribbean he was excited to try it out in all of his different pastry recipes. So when he got up one fine morning to start baking with this sugar he found his daughter already up and in the kitchen asking for waffles.
“What are you doing up Maggie?” McWaffle asked.
“I want that special bread you make with a hot irons daddy.”
Wilhelm stood for a minute and then thought about what he should do. He was in a hurry to get the baking ready for today’s sale. At that moment a bright flash went off in his head. Why not add some sugar to the waffles to make them sweeter for his little girl? So Wilhelm added the sugar, and his daughter absolutely loved the way it tasted in her mouth. In her excitement, she woke up her 4 brothers and two sisters as well as her mother. So Wilhelm made this bread for the rest of the family when they prevailed upon him that he should cook it up to sell that day. Wilhelm asked them what he should call it when little Timmy spoke up.
“Call it a Waffle daddy.”
And the name stuck. So to this day we have the McWaffle family, or maybe some random strange dudes to thank for the history of the waffle. Whatever the case may be, the times and development of the waffle are correct and the names may have been changed to protect . . . somebody. And we are all the better for it.
Go Waffle Go!
I know getting waffles in all sorts of flavors with all sorts of other foods exploded onto the scene very recently. And, unfortunately, I do not have a great waffle recipe to add to this amazing history. But as with every food holiday, the Guide does not wish to leave you empty handed. So we will be giving you another Top Five. We give you the top five waffle locations in Southern California. There are some amazing waffle places now. And so it was hard to choose between the top five. But somebody has to bite the bullet and make the selections. And so we did. So we at the Guide now present to you our findings.
The Top Five Waffle Locations In Southern California –
5) Bruxie –
Trying to be unique and inventive with the waffle, Bruxie thought to make waffle items that you could carry with you on the go. From chicken to pastrami and everything in between, Bruxie stuffs its waffles with hearty goodness. And while they believe in the savory they have not ignored the sweet tooth in all of us. They continue to serve the regular Belgian waffle for breakfast that will melt in your mouth. If you are looking for a great and quick waffle bite, check out Bruxie.
4) Euro Caffe –
I rarely want to dig into everything on a menu, but the Euro Café in Orange County made me want to do just that. You may think it’s just a simple coffee shop but then you take one bite of those waffles and you will be begging for more. Or begging your friends to drag you away from that place as quickly as possible as you feel you gaining weight just looking at the delights they have in store. From strawberry, banana, and Nutella waffles to prosciutto, egg, and pesto ones you won’t know which way to go. And that’s just the tip of the delights that they have in store for you behind the counter. It’s not always easy to get in because of how small it is. But you will thank me once you have. Just amazing dishes altogether.
3) The Iron Press –
Cooked up in the Heart of Orange County (Anaheim and Costa Mesa) these people believe in bringing the waffle back to its roots. They make a mixture of savory and sweet waffles to tempt the palate and will have your mouth begging for more. You can top these waffles with almost anything from chicken to caramelized onions and breakfast cereals. Just one look and you will know why the Iron Press is a must stop on your waffle tour.
Founded in Portland, Oregon in 1953 by Les Highet and Erma Hueneke, The Original Pancake house is a breakfast lover’s dream. Although only open ‘til 3 it is worth the effort to get out and dig right in. I know that with a Pancake house it sounds strange for the waffles to be delicious but they are. Thin and delectable the waffles melt in your mouth with sweet delight and tempt your taste buds to keep coming back for more. The sauces and the toppings also make for a marvelous mixture.
1) Flappy Jacks –
Although not around for nearly as long as the previous entry, Flappy Jacks, on route 66 in Glendora or in Orange, goes above and beyond what the pancake house has to offer. Not only do they have the amazing pancakes and other morning pastries. They have at least double the type of toppings and fillers that the other house has. And the waffles are just melt in your mouth amazing. Of course it has the same problem as the previous restaurant as only being a morning affair and closed by 3 PM. So better get there quick. Plus you will love all the 50s style décor they have inside.
Continue the Conversation –
So what did you think of all of the amazing history behind the waffle? Actually they really did create communion crackers in the 9th century with iron presses that would eventually be used upon the waffles. And truthfully the dates where they became a sweet treat probably coincided with the advent of sugar from the colonies making its price come down drastically. It is possible, however, that the rich had sweet waffles before then, although not much is known specifically. What is your favorite kind of waffle? And what places on this list would you like to try? If you are a Southern California native, you should definitely check some of these places out.
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Until next time, this is me screaming Leggo my Eggo!
David Elliott, The Single Dad’s Guide to Life