On the morning Bill Paxton died, I almost had waffles.
That day, my wife rose first and thought it would be nice if we had waffles for breakfast. I whole-heartedly endorsed this idea, because who doesn’t love waffles? Especially waffles made by someone else. They always taste better. And knowing my past history with waffle batter, there was even a chance none of it would end up on the walls or floor if my wife was the one stationed in front of the iron. I even added a detour to my morning walk to pick up eggs and milk.
The waffle making was well underway, the coffee was brewing, and the table was set. The only snag was that we were out of syrup. I blame myself. I should have checked the fridge and could have easily added syrup to my eggs and milk run, but by this point the waffles were LITERALLY hot off the presses, and it wouldn’t have made sense to go out again. Plus, it wasn’t true that we were completely out of syrup. There was a dribble in a jug in the back of the fridge. Just enough for one person really. My wife and daughter split that amount, and I was okay with delaying my waffles (freezing them) for a future date and eating something else instead, but my wife looked at me with hurt eyes and said, “You’re not going to have even one?” and so I performed one of my husbandly duties and ate few bites of a warm, but dry waffle in front of my wife and daughter. Truth time? It wasn’t great.
So, imagine my excitement this very morning when I realized it was Shrove Tuesday, aka Pancake Tuesday, aka the cusp of Lent, aka Mardi Gras, aka the day of knits, aka the day that inspired Men Without Hats AND the Rolling Stones to BOTH compose songs about, aka the day that is normally dedicated to tacos but for one day of the year we are encouraged, nay, compelled to eat pancakes. Today was that day.
And yes, I look forward to your letters. I realize that waffles are not pancakes, but they are in the pancake family, surely. This isn’t hot dogs and sandwiches territory. Glen Weldon’s opening tweet includes waffles, even if only for robots. Also, I had a bunch of them frozen in the freezer (plus a brand new jug of syrup) and so I thought this would be the perfect breakfast.
Now, I suppose the most sensible way to reheat a frozen waffle is to stick it in the toaster on low or medium or something, right? I’ve heated frozen waffles like this before, and why I deviated from this method today is just one of Lent’s mysteries. Instead I heated up the oven and thought it would be more efficient to stick them all on a baking sheet. I think my logic was that they would be all ready together and my wife, daughter, her wee friend and myself could all eat at the same time.
It was only a few minutes into the heating up process when I noticed a thin wisp of smoke rising from the vent on the top of our stove. This was disconcerting to me because, 1. I hadn’t even put the waffles in yet, and 2. you should never have smoke coming out of your oven. I opened the door and was greeted with a puff of blackish smoke. I’m not going to sensationalize the experience by saying the smoke was “billowing”, but I think there may have been at least ONE billow. Enough for me to reach for the “off” button. At this point, my wife came into the kitchen, saw my distress, and remarked, “I forgot to tell you, I was heating up the butter chicken in the oven last night and it overflowed. I’ll have to clean that up. Why do you have the oven on anyway???”
She was a firm believer in the toaster method, but oddly enough, seemed unconcerned with the smoke. Since I had the oven already heated, she thought I should continue using the oven to heat the waffles.
“But, but…the smoke!” I stammered, but she just shrugged and left the room. I didn’t want to ruin breakfast twice in one week, so I dutifully stuck the baking sheet lined with 6 waffles into the oven and went about the rest of the breakfast prep.
I think my wife underestimated the extent of the butter chicken spill, because within 5 minutes, the kitchen was “quite full” of smoke. So much so, that my wife coughed upon entering and had me open both windows.
“Okay, it IS really bad. Turn it off! Get them OUT! Why am I not allowed to enjoy waffles this week??” was all she could get out.
“It’s weird that the smoke detector didn’t go off,” I pointed out. That may be another whole problem I should investigate, but at that moment, I only had thoughts for these waffles.
So, we got them on plates, and they tasted exactly how you’d imagine waffles that had been smoked over a tandoori oven might taste. A little “exotic” but with the comforting normalizing flavour of the maple syrup on top. It wasn’t terrible, in fact it was PRETTY DAMN TASTY.
You hear of people eating “chicken and waffles” in certain restaurants, although I’ve never witnessed such a thing myself. I can’t quite bring myself to it. I can see that there is a parallel between fried chicken and other meats like bacon and sausage, (In fact, I’m a strong believer in bacon with waffles, and sausages with pancakes, but of course I’ll eat anything you stick in front of me), and yet somehow I’ve never had the courage to have chicken and waffles on the same plate at the same time. I like the idea of sweet and savoury together, and yet: not yet. Haven’t quite made the leap.
Until this morning, when I went even further and INFUSED my waffles with not merely ordinary fried chicken flavour, but with the foreign and sometimes forbidden flavours of garam malasa and curry.
Look, I’ll be honest. It was good and I ate two waffles, but I’m not going to run out and make that mistake again, but I sure as hell wasn’t going to miss out on waffles twice in the same week. I’m worried about our stove though. It’s got a self-cleaning feature, but my wife is queer about it, and believes it can only be used in the Spring, so that means a month or so without an oven, or one of us getting down on our hands and knees and scrubbing it like we were pioneers or something.
Of all the things to give up for Lent, please don’t let it be our stove.