Growing up, my favorite waffles were, of course, Eggos. Flavorless, with a fun catch-phrase, they were the perfect vehicle for syrup and butter. It’s no wonder that I always preferred pancakes at renowned breakfast restaurants, like IHOP and Denny’s. In college, our cafeteria was equipped with a flip-waffle iron and a bowl of batter. You could make waffles at any time of day. But, after eyeing the thin batter and tasting the outcome, it was clear that these were merely pancakes posing as waffles.
Then, I moved to Massachusetts, where I learned a lot about food (Aunt Jemima’s isn’t real maple syrup!?). I worked at a creperie as a barista who didn’t drink coffee. The crepes were filled with strange, exotic ingredients I had never heard of, like arugula and Brie. I also learned that the owner actually specialized in a variety of waffle called “Liège waffles” (also sometimes known as Belgian waffles). I had no interest in trying one – I knew what waffles were all about. But an extremely enthusiastic coworker convinced me to give it a go. She took the deep-pocketed rectangle, toasted it, got out the whipped cream and strawberries and impatiently watched as I took my first bite. And then my taste-buds exploded (with flavor, not literally exploded). Sweet, dense, yeasted, chewy, filled with sweet crunchy pockets of sugar that also caramelized on the surface of the waffle – why ruin this with whipped cream and strawberries? Eggos were no competition – in fact, I wasn’t even sure if they were really waffles at this point – these were the best waffles I had ever had!