Home Feature Articles My Favourite Breakfast Haunt: in celebration of International Waffle Day

My Favourite Breakfast Haunt: in celebration of International Waffle Day

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If you have yet to eat breakfast, you have the perfect excuse for skipping the cornflakes today and treating yourself to everyone’s favourite geometrically-patterned foodstuff. Yes, it’s International Waffle Day.

I have long felt we needed more food photography on Macfilos. Well, today, I am doing something about it. International Waffle Day, March 25th 2023, presented an opportunity I could not resist. In service of Macfilos, I visited a historic local diner, ostensibly to photograph but really to consume a very special waffle dish.

What exactly are waffles?

A classic Belgian waffle with blueberries and strawberries, drizzled with honey and accompanied by whipped cream

For those unfamiliar with this delicacy, waffles are made by cooking a leavened batter between two heated metal plates. The plates are patterned to produce a specific shape and surface impression. Waffles can be square, round, or even heart-shaped, but their characteristic feature is their regular pattern of square indentations. These are perfect for capturing sticky, viscous liquids such as the honey or maple syrup we usually pour over them.

The detailed origin story and history of waffles is beyond the scope of this short article. Suffice it to say that many countries have claimed inventorship. However, here in the US, the widely used moniker for these mouthwatering comestibles is ‘Belgian waffles’.

Belgian waffles can be enjoyed with fruit and whipped cream, which I highly recommend. But, if you want to take your waffle experience to a new level, you need to sample a uniquely sweet and savoury American recipe: chicken and waffles. The dish is most closely associated with the southern United States, but I was fortunate to find it on the menu at a local eatery.

International Waffle Day at Claytons

Clayton’s Coffee Shop has been in business on Orange Ave in Coronado since 1941. It is the only remaining authentic horseshoe counter eatery in San Diego County. Walking into Clayton’s is like time-travelling back to the 1940s. From the serving staff uniforms to the jukebox to the vintage cash register, it’s a magical experience. And they serve chicken and waffles.

My breakfast was beautifully presented: a generous piece of fried chicken sitting atop a Belgian waffle, honey drizzled tastefully over the waffle and in a flower pattern around the plate. It was delicious, but I could only manage to eat half in situ. The remainder accompanied me home in a box for breakfast the following day.

Waffle irons are relatively inexpensive kitchen appliances, and recipes for waffle batter abound. So, you really have no excuse for not partaking in what must be one of the most enjoyable culinary celebrations of the year. Or, you can track down a historic local diner near you, take some photos, and enjoy a taste of the USA.

Are waffles popular where you live? Have you ever made waffles? What is your favourite topping for waffles? Do you think we need more food photography on Macfilos? Let us know in the comments below!


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21 COMMENTS

  1. Belgian waffles are actually called Brussels waffles in Belgium, unlike Americans Belgians don’t have them for breakfast and the mere thought of chicken and waffle would probably make most Belgians (and perhaps most non-Americans) spontaneously puke… I personally have had chicken and waffle multiple times in local (Philly) places, mostly OK but not great… that is till I visited a place in Louisville Kentucky called Wild Eggs. It is a local business turned into a franchise with locations in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio. The chicken was spicy Nashville chicken and it came with chopped bacon and house made syrup. It was delicious! Recommended if you ever get the chance to visit.

  2. This is really Macfilos at its best ! Where else would you find space given to enjoy so much woffle about waffels? And they are so photogenic, too.

    • Glad you liked the waffle, John. We are of on some more interesting tangents in the next few weeks, including a tryst with a famous rodent.

  3. I enjoyed this post more as ‘two unique American cultural practices’ — the diner and chicken ‘n waffles. Not so much as food photography per se!

    More pieces like this, across the world, would be fun!

    (personally, more ‘Japanese vegetarian’ for breakfasts, though)

    • The problem with International Waffle Day or International Breakfast Day is that there really is no such thing as an international breakfast. I lived in the Middle East, where you could occasionally get porridge, but if you wanted a fried breakfast you would get ‘bacon’ and sausages made from turkey or chicken, but definitely no pigs were involved. There may have been waffles or pancakes around, but I don’t recall them. What they did have, and which I really liked, was ‘Umm Ali’ meaning the ‘Mother of Ali’ which was usually served as a dessert at dinner or ‘iftar’ (an evening meal to break the daytime Ramadan fast- so technically a very late breakfast). British people would recognise it as good old bread pudding. The other big difference is that in America and on Continental Europe coffee is consumed at breakfast, whereas in Britain and Ireland for my generation it was always tea. Tea is often marketed in the UK as ‘English Breakfast Tea’. Mike will forgive me if I don’t get into talking about Kippers which were sometimes for breakfast and sometimes for what we called ‘Tea’ and the British called ‘Supper’. There is also a breakfast called the ‘Full Irish’ or the ‘Full English’, but I better stop there before I cause any more confusion. I am sure that Mike can describe Wigan variants on the theme of breakfast.

      William

      • I recall Margaret Rutherford’s Mis Marple having a breakfast of kippers and a slice of bread.

        Naoto Takenaka‘s Samurai Gourmet has a traditional inn breakfast of (dried then grilled) mackerel, natto (fermented soybean), pickles, seaweed, and of course, rice. But about half of contemporary Japanese have パン (pan — derived from the Portuguese for bread). For that, we can blame globalization — in the 1800’s.

        I think I take your point, yet would enjoy articles similar to Keith’s, exploring regional food cultures.

        • Thanks Kathy. Yes, Keith’s wonderful article does open a lot of possibilities. I’m not a great fan of Sushi myself, but Swedish Smorgasbord can be quite nice. When I worked in the Middle East, if somebody in the office had a new baby they would ‘buy breakfast’ for everyone else and it would be delivered to the office at about 10am which was about 3 hours into the working day. As the boss, I would have to make an appearance and shove a few bits of food into my mouth to show appreciation. Typical dishes would include Falafel, Hummus, Labneh and ‘sweets’ which were sickly sweet fried objects, often stuffed with pistachios.

          Eating in the Arab world is very much a communal event with people all eating out of the same dish and dipping in pieces of bread to mop things up. If you go to a restaurant with an Arab host they will usually order all of the food (you are not asked what you would like to eat) and fill the table with dishes until you cannot see the table anymore. I recall that the mother of a young staff member came over from Jordan to visit her daughter and she cooked dinner for myself and my wife and her daughter. I can only describe the quantities of food as filling large basins. ‘Super-size’ in US eateries would have nothing on this. One night I was invited to dinner at a sheikh’s ‘majlis’ or ‘gents’ meeting room’. What was served was a whole roast lamb (and when I say whole I mean the whole animal, head, legs and all) sitting on top of a massive bed of rice which was wheeled into the dining area. We all sat around and dipped in. There were scenes in the Lawrence of Arabia film which captured this perfectly.

          I’ve strayed a long way from waffles, though.

          William

    • Hi Kathy, I am glad to hear that the conjunction of these two American traditions hit the spot. I for one would enjoy reading about other distinctive national cultural practices and icons, especially if accompanied by photos of picturesque venues and tasty-looking dishes! I bet there are some great examples of local dishes and hostelries up in the Pacific Northwest that you could tell us about! It would also be a great opportunity to put that Leica kit into action. 🙂 Cheers, Keith

      • Keith,

        On your article — were the photos purpose-taken just for MACFILOS? I ask, as I’m wondering how many of us have such high-quality food photos in their archives.

        Like William, many of our authors have worked, travelled or lived all over the world. Like Umm ali, the food traditions must be truly different from a European model.

        The challenge: let’s eat!

        🙂

        • Hi Kathy, yes, I took these photographs specifically for this article. I used my Q2, apart from the first one – the Belgian Waffle with berries – which was an opportunistic shot with an iPhone. Nevertheless, it was taken with the intent of including it in this article. Cheers, Keith

      • What wonderful straying! May we all be so lucky.

        I appreciate the insight into Arabic hospitality/food culture — a region whose millenia old culture I’ll never experience for myself.

        I do wonder whether serving an entree/main/dessert to Arab guests would be considered as an insult.

        While wanting articles such as Keith’s, there is an obstacle. Imagine sitting down to breakfast in Europe or the Pacific Rim. I would typically plan out my day, thinking of the areas I’d like to visit, the photos I’d like to take. It never occurs to me that perhaps the most interesting thing I’d see is on the table in front of me.

        🙂

  4. Chicken waffles? This USA Southerner never heard of it. Can’t argue with the idea, though.

    For me it is this: Square waffles made with Bisquick, vegetable oil, and buttermilk. Served with pork sausage, for breakfast. Top with butter and cane syrup. That’s tradition.

    Except these days I skip the syrup (not the butter!) for health reasons.

    In the old days before pasteurized, homogenized milk became the norm, instead of buttermilk it was sour milk.

    • Hi Martin, sausage ‘n waffles sounds almost as good as chicken ‘n waffles, but with the latter you get that extra dose of fat and carbs from the batter on the chicken… 😉

      I am impressed that you can dispense with the syrup, which I view as a very helpful lubricant to aid mastication of what would otherwise be a relatively dry dish. Happy Waffle Day! Cheers, Keith

      • The way my father made waffles (it was his specialty), and I am able to duplicate them pretty closely, they come out so light and crisp they just “melt in your mouth”. Not much lubrication needed, but the butter helps!

  5. Chicago does a good job of having diners throughout the city where you can eat Waffles. If you want to attach the word “Legendary” to any place that sells waffles then it’s “The Waffle House” which is a chain of restaurants found predominantly in the South.

    Recognized as a place for late night dining after binge drinking, and also for soaking up the last remnants of alcohol the following morning.

    If you ever find yourself in the South and see a sign for a Waffle House, then it’s well worth a stop.

  6. Nice photos, Keith. Waffles are not really popular in Ireland. Pancakes would be just as popular. In my generation, cereals such as Corn Flakes or Weetabix would have been almost universal and in the generation which came before me, it was porridge all the way. My late mother always made a pot of porridge the night before and left it simmering on an anthracite stove overnight. I still sometimes have porridge for breakfast with honey on it. If you want to know what today’s Hollywood Irish set eat for breakfast, just Google Colin Farrell’s Crunchy Nut Flakes and there is a funny story attached to this with two Oscar nominees fighting over a box of breakfast cereal.

    Is there any chance of an International Porridge Day? My mother would have liked that.

    William

    • I’m with you on that, William. Porridge for me too. But it probably isn’t as colourful as Keith’s decorated waffles.

    • Thanks William! For many years here in the US I was a devoted porridge consumer, although here it is referred to as oatmeal. I have a sweet tooth, and so would typically apply a dollop of jam (preserves) and a glug of milk. Delicious! However, with an eye on healthy gut microbiota and fibre consumption, I have now switch to low fat yoghurt, berries (defrosted from frozen), almonds and a sprinkling of flax-seed granola. Also delicious but lacking the comfort food experience of porridge! Cheers, Keith

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