The ancestor of the waffle was nothing more than a rustic cake made of cereal’s pulps, prepared and cooked by the men of the Neolithic on heated stones. Once the face of the cake in contact with the stones was gilded, they turned it over to let the other face cooking. Once somebody had the idea to replace the stone by an iron plate, the pancake was born. Once somebody found that the cooking would go quicker with 2 heated iron plates at both sides at the same time, it was the beginning of the waffle. It was a long time ago and the word “waffle” didn’t exist yet.
The word “gaufre” (waffle in English) is coming from the “walfre” at the twelve century. In old French, “wafel” meant at that time “piece of honey (bee-) hive”. It was a bakery with light pasta cooked between two heat irons which printed a drawing in relief.
These cakes came through the centuries till the Middle Ages. We found these cakes back in the thirteen century under the name of “oublies” or “Pan d’juif” (Jew’s bread).
It’s only in the thirteen century that the waffles appeared when one black-smith imagined producing an iron which looked like the drawings of the alveoli made by the bees. The name of the bakery obtained received the name of “waffle”.
The waffles were sold to the people in the streets. For religious celebrations or saint’s days, the waffles vendors (after paying an honest remuneration to the clergy), were allowed to sell their waffles at the exits of the churches. Year after years, they came more and more in large numbers, they were a lot of fights and troubles between vendors, and finally the King Charles IX (King of France between 1560 and 1574) decided to regulate this lucrative business. The vendors had to stay at 2 “toises” (+/- 6 ft.) from each other …
At the sixteen century, the waffles were not only a delicacy. They were eaten when they were a shortage of breads. The raw materials were mainly water and bad flour. From the eighteen century, the bad flour was replaced by mashed potatoes. These waffles for the common people were thick and on the contrary, the waffles for the upper middle class were thin and above all more delicate because eggs, milk, honey … were added.
Today in Belgium, you can find waffles, all the year long, at bakeries, at big chain stores … The waffles are inseparables from the children world and from the time of the parties. The waffles are one of the oldest desserts.
Different kinds of waffles
Since the thirteen century, it remains actually types of waffles in their dozens. The most famous are the following: the thick waffles (The Liege’s waffles) , the thin waffles (The Brussels’s waffles), the soft waffles, the waffles made of puff pastry, the hunting waffles, the seasonal filled waffles with fresh fruits (cherries, prunes, apples, blueberries, apricots), etc.
The waffle is a Belgian culinary specialty. Each part of the country has its own
general stores, etc. They are not as tasty as the warm Liege’s waffles.
The Brussels’s waffles are big, rectangular (circular in the US) and very light. They are always eaten warm with toppings. They are the famous Belgian waffles imported in the USA in the sixties. The name of Belgian waffles is probably coming from Americans who had eaten Brussels’s waffles in the capital of Europe.
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