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Roald Smeets – Belgian Waffles

Belgian Waffles are fluffier and higher than other waffles, because they have  beaten egg white in them. Because they are higher, they tend to have  correspondingly deeper indents in them.
They are also leavened with  yeast, which most other waffles are not, and so have a tangier taste from the  fermentation.
In making them, you need a waffle iron which can handle  their height.
In Belgium, there’s not really any such thing as a Belgian  waffle. There are Brussels Waffles (Gaufre de Bruxelles), made from batter  leavened with beaten eggs. And there are Liege Waffles (Gaufre liegeoise) made  from yeast-leavened dough with small pieces of sugar worked in during the final  rise, that then carmelize as the waffle is cooked.

History Notes for Belgian Waffles

Credit for the creation of  Belgian Waffles is attributed to a couple in Brussels, Belgium — Maurice  Vermersch and his wife (sadly, unnamed in all the accounts.)

Just before World War II started, they had come up with a technique for  waffles using yeast as the leavener, and greasing the pans with lard. He decided  to sell them at the 1960 World’s Fair in Brussels. They did well. He then opened  a few restaurants to sell his waffles.
Then, in 1964, he arranged to sell  them from the Belgium Village (a recreation of a medieval Belgian village) at  the World’s Fair held at Flushing Meadows, Queens, New York (actually, both in  1964 and in 1965 – the fair carried over two years.)
Realizing that most  Americans didn’t know where Brussels was, within a few days of selling them, he  decided to call them “Belgian Waffles”. Well, sort of — he actually called them  “Bel-Gem” waffles.
He actually arranged to sell them at several places  throughout the fair, and not just at the Village. He served them with  strawberries and whipped cream, and sold them for a dollar.
Someone had  sold Belgian Waffles at the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle, but it’s uncertain who  did.
Someone named Maurice Vermersch was running a Belgian waffle stand  at the 1996 New York State fair. [1]
_____________________________________ [1] Jackson, Suzanne M. Corn, butter, a  little girl and her grandpa. Syracuse, New York: Syracuse Herald Journal. 21  August 1996.

Literature & Lore

“DELICIOUS Belgian waffles, with whipped  cream and strawberries, are popular snacks at the Fair. They’re prepared with  natural gas, of course. Natural gas has been firmly established as the source of  energy of the future —here today — at the Seattle World’s Fair.” —  El Paso  Natural Gas Company Ad. Idaho Falls, Idaho. The Post Register. 9 September 1962.

“Believe me it’s worth the dollar to go into the Belgian Village.  This is the biggest exhibit at the fair, virtually a miniature city in itself.  In the evening they have entertainment in the village square; and don’t dare  pass up those Belgian strawberry waffles.” — Sarmento, William E. Make the  World’s Fair A Must This Summer. Lowell, Massachusetts: The Lowell Sun. Sunday,  16 May 1965. P. 44.

“We also look lime to late lunch on one of  the culinary delights of the Fair, the famous Ben-Gem [ed: sic] waffles.  Prepared in the Belgian manner, they’re sprinkled with powdered sugar, “stuffed”  with sure-nuf whipped cream and smothered with fresh strawberries. They cost 99  cents — and worth every calorie. There is usually a long line at the “waffle  bars.” ” — Whiteaker, Mildred.  An Invitation to the Fair. San Antonio, Texas:  Express and News. Sunday, 19 July 1964. Page 6-E.

“The Belgian  Village was charming—what there was of it — but is still far from completed.  Next year it should be one of the finest features of the fair. Don’t miss their  fabulous Belgian waffles slathered with huge strawberries and whipped cream. I  hear that these are being served at our Minnesota State Fair.” — Lamberton,  Gretchen L. The Casual Observer Column. Winona, Minnesota. Winona Daily News.  Friday, 4 September 1964. Page 7.
“And before you leave, have a  Belgian waffle in the International Plaza, Belgian Village, Lake Amusement Area  or at the New International Snack Bar in the People-to-People Pavilion. These  huge, tender waffles are loaded with powdered sugar, whipped cream and  strawberries, all for 99 cents.” — Crossley, Robert P. Here’s What’s New at the  World’s Fair. San Antonio, Texas: The San Antonio Light. 18 April 1965, Page  6.

Language Notes

Sometimes called “gaufrette”; not to be confused  with the cookie that is called a “gaufrette.”
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