I am not much of a breakfast person. I manage a piece of peanut butter toast every morning, only because I know that “it’s good for me.” I don’t go in for eggs (I can’t get over the smell), I don’t much care about sugar, so things like French toast and pancakes don’t faze me, and being extremely finicky about how I like my bacon means I almost never make it. (Plus, it takes a solid week for the lingering aroma of stale bacon grease to clear out of my apartment.)
For my breakfast-loving father, who would eat eggs and bacon three times a day if you’d let him, my “just coffee for me, thanks” proclivities are a source of unending disappointment.
But I do make a few exceptions.
When I was a little girl, Saturday was “waffle day” at our house. My father found my parents’ waffle iron at a flea market in like 1978, and the thing was already ancient then. It had one of those old-fashioned electrical cords that were covered in fabric, and it weighed about a ton. As far as I was concerned, the waffles it produced were the best. It made a thinner, crisper waffle with about a million tiny waffle squares, each and every one of which designed be filled to the brim with syrup. (Every child knows that the whole point of a waffle is just to be the vehicle for as much maple syrup as possible.) I grew up in a house where we had to have “good-for-you” cereals, which excluded the much sought-after kid varietals like Lucky Charms and Froot Loops, so waffles were as close as I ever came to candy for breakfast (another life ambition of the average five year old.)
Every Saturday in my early childhood, I remember my dad getting up and making waffles in our kitchen. I have a lot of great memories of those Saturdays, standing on a kitchen chair in my jammies next to my father and “helping.”
I’m sure I caused way more trouble than I was worth, but to my four-year-old self, it was a great privilege to mix the batter still in the bowl. Sometimes, my dad would even let me pour the batter onto the waffle iron. I can still remember that distinctive, sizzling sound the batter made when it hit the hot iron, and the pretty golden color of the waffles when my dad would peel them off the dark metal and onto the serving dish.
As I got older, more babies came, life got busier, my dad’s job changed to include a lot more business trips, I was busy with school and clubs and friends and “being mature” (a hilarious illusion held by thousands of teenagers all over America), and Waffle Day went the way of the dodo.
I am a “real” adult now, with a career and place of my own, my own hobbies and friends and responsibilities. I have lived on the other side of the world and back again. I have developed my own rituals and personal traditions, but sometimes, I still miss those days when I was little and life was simple and Waffle Day was still a thing.
So I called my father up the other day and asked, “Dad, do you remember how you always used to make waffles when I was little on that really old waffle iron? Do you guys still have it?”
My parents do still have that waffle iron. It is still ancient. It still weighs about a ton. The old cloth cord didn’t work anymore, but my dad hunted all over the city and managed to find a replacement, so I could go over to my parents’ house and make waffles again.
We’re a little out of practice, my dad and I–the first few tries got stuck to the iron for reasons we couldn’t figure out–but that didn’t matter.
Some things are different. I am an adult now, older than my father was when we first did this. I don’t need to stand on a chair to see what’s going on on top of the counter. I don’t need someone else to make sure I don’t burn myself or tell me not to put so much batter on the iron.
But some things are still the same. It still feels like an honor to pour the batter. The waffle iron still makes that sizzling noise when you close it. It is still reassuring to know that if you get burned, someone’s going to be there to tell you it’ll be okay. It still seems to take forever for the steam to stop hissing out of the sides of the closed iron. It is still exciting to make waffles. It is still a privilege to stand next to my daddy.
You can check out my family’s waffle recipe on the drop down menu under “Recipes.” (It’s really not that much harder than a box mix. I promise.)