The sun beamed through the dirty windows in a little restaurant in Greenwich Village, NY. For some reason, I had ordered the Belgian Waffles. I don’t know why; I didn’t like waffles back then. When I was small, my mother had made them with whipped egg whites that were folded into the batter and they were probably quite delicious. But as a child, I had preferred the velvety softness of her buttermilk pancakes. When I got older, Mom had switched to making them with Bisquik, and at that point, waffles simply became low-grade pancakes with treads.
But that morning in 1987, for some unknown reason, I ordered the waffles. Crispy, yeasty and chewy… they were like a brioche, covered in blueberry compote and powdered sugar. At that moment, my definition of “waffle” was forever changed.
When I moved back to Colorado, I occasionally ordered waffles when I was out for breakfast, but they were always a disappointment. They were nothing more than crispy pancakes, made from a mix that used baking soda (rather than yeast) or worse: taken straight from the freezer and popped into a toaster. They looked like the ethereal waffles of Greenwich Village, but the flavor and consistency was a bland disappointment.
I finally gave up on waffles, and went back to the safety of pancakes. Even Denny’s can make decent pancakes.
Last year, I was truly in love. We connected intellectually in a way that I have rarely experienced in my life. The relationship wasn’t perfect, but it was fulfilling in a way that I had not experienced before. Things were awesome…until they weren’t… He blew it up with a big stick of dynamite despite my pleas to stop the insanity of his final choices. I realize that there is something in his head that will not allow him to be in a healthy relationship. I can’t fix it. It is unlikely to change in his lifetime.
I have never been back to that restaurant in East Greenwich Village. I don’t even remember the name of the place. I will never go back to this man, either. These are events of my past. They were amazing, and redefined how I saw waffles… and being in a great relationship.
I’ve had waffles since then, but mostly, I make them at home. They are a pain in the butt to make, but delicious… though not quite as resplendent as the ones in my memory. I have been on a few dates… met some nice men… but the connection falls flat. It is ordinary. The conversation is made with baking soda, not yeast. Much of it consists of stories they’ve pulled from the freezer and popped into our collective toaster. It isn’t terrible, but it is unfulfilling, flat, ordinary.
Will I ever find that restaurant again? I sometimes wonder if it even exists anymore. What is the name? How can I find it? I wonder if the chef would give me the recipe. All of this is frivolous speculation. I haven’t been to New York in 25 years. Should I make a greater effort to find a restaurant locally that makes a waffle that can compare? I suppose I’m not so desperate for waffles that I’m willing to make that quest a priority in my life right now.
Perhaps I am better off just occasionally relishing the memory of its perfect imperfection. And anyway; I’m still quite fond of pancakes.
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