History Of The Belgian Waffle
Belgium, famed for waffles, Brussels sprouts and erm,umh, did we mention waffles?
We have read one story that dates the appearance of the Belgian waffle to 1962. Thing is, that is when they were introduced to America. They are a little older than that.
In fact they were around during the middle ages. Initially being made as unleavened cakes baked in a wafer iron. During this time they were made from a mix of barley and oats and cooked in an iron made from two metal plates, put over a fire and flipped like a pancake to ensure both sides are cooked.
We tend to group all waffles into the ‘Belgium’ waffles camp, but there are actually two types hailing from that little European country.
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This is what we usually think of when talking about a Belgian waffle. usually rectangular (though you can get circular, triangular and even heart shaped waffle irons)with deep wells and crisp on the outside, covered in cream or sauce and a side order of fruit.
The first mention we can find for this type is 1874, (thats for Brussels waffle specifically), waffles in general were mentioned as far back as 1604.
They would be sold outside of churches during celebrations and on feast days, with King Charles IX of France ruling that vendors had to set up 4 metres from each other, such was their popularity.
Meanwhile in the City of Liege you would find a more sophisticated version made from brioche dough and with caramalised sugar chunks inside. An altogether richer more gooey confection, intended to be eaten without additional toppings being necessary.
Oh and this one wasn’t the perfectly square holed rectangular offering like you would receive in Brussels, rather it was more of an oval shape, a sort of rebellious younger brother if you like.
The ‘American’ Belgian Waffle
The waffle is super popular in the good ole US of A. Which is ironic considering that the breakfast item, gracing so many of their morning menus, has little resemblance to the culinary delight hailing from the capital of the EU superstate.
Where the sophisticated Euopean clientale eat it as a traditional street food, with their hands and little in the way of toppings. The Americans smother it in gallons of syrup and turn it into a calorific feat of endurance.
In fact even the batter it is made from is totally different. The original has a light airy texture, the new world version is more like a pancake that has been made in a waffle iron. The sub par flavour being compensated for by smothering it in extras to provide some taste.
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