Mrs. Pollards Receipt for Making Waffles – Historical Context
Take one quart of Milk seven Eggs half a pound of Butter rose water to the taste mix these together with a little yeast then stir in flour sufficient to make a thick batter then set it to rise (To make the orange Pudding. Take two or three fair Oranges boil the peals in 2 or 3 waters till the bitterness is out of them then take out all the white part with a Tea spoon[.] Grind it with half a pound of Sugar and half a pound of butter and the yolks of sixteen Eggs beat them all together ~
The story of a waffle, while winding into the past, definitively makes its prominence as a religious symbol of communion for Christians. Before waffles came to resemble their large and defined shape, they were ornate relics called “wafers” or “oublies.” Although this food became prominent with the start of the Church, its first cultural documentation was in France in 1393, when Menagier de Paris was a published as a pamphlet for women written by men. This pseudo-cookbook describes waffles in four ways, “thin with grated cheese…[with] wine and no eggs…[with] eggs and wine…with cheese in the middle.” From France, documentation of waffles spread to Germany and the Netherlands, where yeast was introduced to the recipe in the former while irons were introduced by the latter. The fame of this food made its way from the mouths of the people to the art of Pieter Bruegel and Pieter Aertsen who included waffles in their depiction of human interactions in the mid-1550s. In America, waffles were first introduced by Puritans with Dutch heritage, and later by Thomas Jefferson after his term as ambassador to France. However it wasn’t until Expo 58 and the 1964 New York’s World Fair that this common day treat gained its modern popularity. Today, waffles are enjoyed as a breakfast, topped with ice cream or smothered with syrup, or served with a side of fried chicken. They have come to represent the industrialization and the cheapening of sugar and butter as staple foods as they have become branded by both Eggo and Waffle House.
Waffles have been entrusted with savory goodness since their beginning in ancient Greece, and for that reason, have become symbolic for both pleasure and desire. These ideas were conjured before Thomas Jefferson introduced the idea of excess with his “waffle frolics” as Geoffrey Chaucer in his 14th century collection, the Canterbury Tales uses waffles as a means of temptation or seduction. In his story, “Miller’s Tale,” Chaucer describes a story of lust and humor as the charming Nicholas, a tenant of John the carpenter, seems to successfully outwit all those around him. In the story, he successfully “beds” the wife of his landlord through elaborate lies and tricks Absolon, a priest who also longs for this young wife. Absolon, while subsidiary to the larger plot, tries to impress and seduce the women of his affection by grand-gestures, “and waffles piping hot out of the fire” (Chaucer). The role of waffles is solidified in this passage as an extravagance similar to the idea of the “current” waffle, smothered in its toppings and ice cream, similarly details. To the contrary, waffles become a common staple in the American breakfast through history, as witnessed in the Virginia Housewife’s receipt for “Wafers.” Mary Randolph wrote this cookbook to be a common book of American society rather than a staple of solely the elitist, American South or those in excess.