Of all the things I could have predicted about my young adult life, having recurring dreams about waffles would not have been one of the things on my radar. And yet, this is where I find myself, at 32, dreaming (literally, not figuratively) about breakfast food.
I guess things could be worse.
It all began about three months ago, when I had a dream I was making waffles on a beach. Then, a week later, there was another about waffles at my old high school; a few days after that, I dreamt I was eating them in Paris, curbside, with friends (because apparently I have Parisian friends now?). I woke up from that last one bleary-eyed, thinking why can’t dreams be real life??, then rolled over, closed my eyes and hoped that I could somehow lucid-dream myself into eating more waffles by the Seine.
According to the Interweb (where, of course, all accurate, reliable, trustworthy information resides) having recurring dreams about waffles is not exactly a good thing. But because I believe that dreams have a more visceral connection to what’s going on in our minds and bodies (because not only do I have imaginary Parisian friends, I’m also a hippie now?), I came to the conclusion that I probably just really wanted waffles – stacked high, with a generous slick of maple syrup across the top. So, the next available weekend, I made a point of honouring my demented breakfast dreams by scouring the neighbourhood for the perfect waffle.
After looking through the menus of a few places, I soon discovered that finding some standard, no frills waffles in this town is capital H Hard. Today’s brunch venues (complete with the requisite distressed-wood tables, exposed light bulbs and waiters with perfectly groomed handlebar moustaches) serve waffles that tend to be a bit too, er, hip…including varieties that are egg-less (oh boy this should be fun), Red Velvet-flavoured (ick), or lacquered in a weird, lavender-infused syrup (double ick).
It seems that the basic, trad waffle has been comically adulterated by the
bourgeois bohemian crowd well-intentioned entrepreneurs of this city. All I wanted was a simple, straight-forward waffle. No fancy distractions. Just a really good, crispy, golden syrup-receptacle. After coming up empty, I spent the next couple of weeks asking myself – and anyone who would listen – where are all the freaking real-deal waffles at?
All that whining turned out to be beneficial, because on my birthday – lo and behold – I was gifted a WAFFLE MAKER. Yes – a machine with which I can make waffles WHENEVER I WANT. It seems like an insane prospect. And I will, without a doubt, become a hazard to myself in the process. But HOLY MACKEREL. WAFFLES. SORRY, BUT I FEEL THAT CAPS LOCKS ARE THE ONLY WAY TO FULLY CONVEY MY EXCITEMENT. That, and exclamation marks. Because…WAFFLES !!!!!!
Without an ounce of shame, I willl proudly admit that I’ve had waffles every single weekend since. The novelty having not fully worn off, I still get stupid-excited about pouring the batter onto the iron, closing down the top and waiting for the indicator light to turn green. It’s totally magical, even if they’re super easy to make. It’s the kind of food that makes you want to wear a feathered boa to breakfast and sing this Mariah classic at the top of your lungs, replacing the lyric “lover” with “waffle”.
Or, that just might be me.
A quick note: These are not to be mistaken for belgian-style gaufres. These are decidedly US of A-style waffles – reminiscent of the thin, crispy, golden waffles of your Eggo youth. Only better, because they didn’t come out of a sad box from the freezer.
Epic Buttermilk Waffles (makes 6) – recipe from the Aretha Frankensteins restaurant in Chattanooga, TN
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk*
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon pure (natural) vanilla extract
Maple syrup, for serving
* genius trick for making quick buttermilk (courtesy of my mom): add about 1 tsp of white vinegar to nearly 1 cup of milk. Ta da!
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; mix well. Add the milk, vegetable oil, egg, sugar and vanilla and mix well. Let the batter sit for about 30 minutes.
Preheat a waffle iron. No need to grease it – the oil in the batter will allow the waffle to release easily. Follow the machine’s cooking directions. Serve immediately with syrup and any other accompaniments you see fit.