My husband and I have developed a few traditions while living here in Germany, generally relating to the weekend or holiday days. I think it is because our free time allows it and moreso is our desire for normalcy in this adopted culture of ours. The first established tradition was Pajama Sundays because we didn’t have a lot of money and why bother when the only thing open on Sundays are some tourist destinations in town or restaurants and cafés?! My husband is not a morning person, in fact he likes to sleep in as often as he possibly can. Unfortunately, he has to get up for work at 6:30 at the latest to make sure he can commute to and arrive at work by 8:00 am. This leaves him wanting to sleep in on both Saturdays and Sundays. Unfortunately, because basically everything on Sundays is closed, I have to get him out of bed on Saturdays to help me run errands and fix thing about the house (or get supplies so he can fix things throughout the next week). He hates this, and rightfully so. We plan on eventually having a family, hopefully sooner than later, and then there will be no sleeping in for at least ten years. So, unless we are on a trip, or going on a trip on a Sunday, I let him sleep in.
After our wedding, my husband adopted wearing his kilt on Sundays because the weather was pretty nice and it didn’t make sense being lazy and staying in the house when the weather was so beautiful.
During our summer of discontent and crappy weather last year, my husband was promoted and began working more than he should (especially by European standards) and our relationship hurt because of it. As he turned to work, I turned to writing this blog and Sunday was my day to reflect and post those reflections. After being here for almost three years too, our friends have realized that we would likely be here a while more and that us being here provides an excellent excuse for those friends that can afford it to come to Europe, we decided to adopt a Bavarian Breakfast day. This breakfast consists of pretzels, Weissbraten, Hefeweisen, a soft-boiled egg, coffee and mustard. As an accompaniment to this, my husband would find the Bayerische television show, “Politik Religion und Bier” (but I couldn’t find the link, so if this title incorrect and someone knows the right title and/or link, please share) to put on in the background. My German is not good enough to follow too much of the show, so I get bored really quickly with it unfortunately. It does help add to the overall ambiance though.
Our latest tradition is “authentic” Belgian waffles made at home. We have friends in Antwerp whom we love visiting. The five-hour train ride is so very worth it. Our friends are rad, their town has great places to eat and drink, is culturally and politically rich and it is overall so close comparatively!
Besides the beer, the thing to do in Belgium is to eat waffles, seriously! Did you know that there are two main varieties of Belgian waffles and likely many more regional varieties? The two main varieties are the Brussels waffle, or aufre de Bruxelles and the Liége waffle, or the Luikse wafel in Vlaamse and as Lütticher waffeln in German. The difference between these two waffles, besides their origin is their general texture and ingredients. The Brussels waffle is what more Americans are familiar with, although how it is made in Belgium and how it is generally made in the US leads to two completely different waffles. Furthermore, most Americans are used to eating waffles for breakfast while Belgians eat waffles more as a snack than anything else.
Brussels waffles are usually square with deep square pockets within the waffle. They are generally less dense (more light and fluffy) and topped with any number of toppings (nutella, ice cream, whipped cream, etc). Liége waffles on the other hand are often smaller, shaped like a circle, and more dense topped again with a variety of toppings. In my attempt to make these amazing waffles, I cannot afford the luxury of the deep pocketed waffle maker in addition to the lovely heart-shaped on my husband gifted me during our first Christmas in Germany. So my waffles will always look like hearts.
Additionally, the difference between the American waffles and authentic waffles are two key (yes, KEY) ingredient: the sparkling water and yeast!
Here are two recipes that I have tried from EuropeanCuisines.com:
1. The gauffre de Bruxelles / Brussels waffle:
- 1 kilogram flour (2.2 lb)
- 30 grams of yeast (one package of fast-action yeast)
- 25 grams of brown sugar
- 1250 ml of lukewarm water (use tepid sparkling water if possible)
- 250 grams powdered nonfat dry milk (Carnation or similar)
- 10 grams of salt
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract or one small packet vanilla sugar (about 2 teaspooons)
- 400 to 500 grams of melted butter
- 6 to 8 egg whites, beaten to stiff peaks
For the waffle batter:
*As you might have noticed, this recipe makes a lot of batter, and the large amount shown is what was left even after I cut the recipe in half! This waffle did not hold up after multiple days as well as the Liége waffle.
- Put the flour in a large bowl. Make a well in the flour: add the yeast and 250 ml of the lukewarm water.
- Add the brown sugar, powdered milk, the vanilla extract or vanilla sugar, and the remainder of the water. Mix the dough well: allow to rise for at least 20 minutes – 1/2 hour. During this period, melt the butter. Allow to cool to lukewarm.
- Add the melted butter: mix well. Beat the egg whites to stiff peaks,: fold carefully into the batter mixture until evenly mixed through.
4. Heat a large waffle iron. Spread each section with the batter, close and bake until done.
5. Serve dusted with comfectioners’ / icing sugar, or topped with whipped cream and fruit, or with melted chocolate or Nutella.
2. the gaufre de Liège/ Liège waffle:
- 420 grams flour
- 7 grams salt (about a half teaspoon)
- 25 grams granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 50 grams yeast / one package fast-acting yeast
- 300 grams butter
- Around 20 centiliters cold water (preferably sparkling water)
- 270 grams pearl sugar
- Vanilla or spicery to your taste
For the waffle dough:
- Allow eggs and sparkling water to come up to room temperature first.
- Sift the flour into a bowl: make a well in the middle.
- Melt the butter over hot water or in the microwave. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Beat the eggs well: add the butter and the yeast: mix well. Add the water and mix again.
- Add to the flour along with the granulated sugar and vanilla or other seasoning (cinnamon works well).
- Beat the dough for at least ten minutes. It will probably be sticky and difficult to work with. This is normal.
- After this beating, allow to stand and rise in a warm place for 15-30 minutes. 5 to 10 minutes before baking, add the pearl sugar. *In place of using pearl sugar I dust the top and bottom of the iron with regular sugar and it turns out okay.
- Heat the waffle iron. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto each quarter or section of the waffle iron. Bake until well browned.
I encourage you to try this at home too! They are so good! If you have a variation you like to make at home, please share it in the comments. Also, if you try one of these recipes and like (or not) how it turns out, please share your thoughts in the comments too!!
In all, I think these are some good traditions! Please feel free to come visit if you would like to participate in these traditions of ours.