For me, growing up, that came with some expectations for how I behaved and conducted myself in public. A lot of it was little things. Such as, when you’re a Holzgang you correct every single person who goes, “Oh! you’re German” to explain that “actually, I’m Swiss.” Others where a little bigger. For example, I have vivid memories of being told “Holzgangs don’t quit” on multiple occasions. Like that time in 5th grade when I didn’t feel like practicing violin and my dad made me practice Simple Gifts over and over saying, “Holzgangs don’t quit.” (I can still play that song by memory on every instrument I own.) Or the time in 7th grade when I’d been attacked by hornets (itchy, painful hornet bits all over my body) and I still had to go to volleyball practice that day because Holzgangs don’t quit. Or that time when I was 30 and decided to give up alcohol for 100 days but then got a really exciting job offer and wanted to have a sip of champaign to celebrate but couldn’t because Holzgangs don’t quit, and when I talked to my mom about it she laughed because apparently my dad quits stuff all the time…. wait, what?!
I think you get the point. In addition to these expectations, my family also holds very strong opinions on very unimportant things. Brunch can only happen between the hours of 10 am and noon (anything earlier is breakfast, anything later is lunch). My sister and mother made fun of Uggs in such a vicious way that I would have never even considered looking at a pair in front of them. (Later when my I got pair during the hight of Ugg popularity—you know, 2005/06-ish—I would keep them in my car to hide them from my family. I still only wear them in secret at home.) I listen to my mom’s story about why she hates wearing Birkenstocks so many times, I didn’t even consider buying a pair until I was in my 30s (and I love them).
But none of these opinions has weighted so heavily on me as the classic vs Belgian waffle debate.
Now you might be thinking to yourself, “what is this classic vs Belgian waffle debate you keep talking about?” For most of the people I’ve meet as an adult, the difference between a classic waffle and a Belgian waffle hasn’t even registered as a thing. A waffle is a waffle. So here’s a quick explanation on the differences: Belgian waffles have a larger, deeper square. That’s it. I feel like Belgian is slightly more popular, or maybe that’s an Oregon thing. In my experience, a Belgian waffle is almost always what you get from a waffle food cart. Classic waffles, with their smaller squares, are frequently made in the circle shape or hearts; however, my family made our home-cooked waffles on a classic square iron from Black and Decker. I grew up in a classic waffle family. For my entire childhood and all of college, I was a hardcore pro-classic waffle eater.
I’m not sure how this came about. My grandparents on my dad’s side are Belgian waffle eaters. My grandparents on my mom’s side ate Eggos. I vaguely remember some story about my dad being forced to eat Belgian-style waffles as a kid while he secretly wanted to eat the better, classic-style waffles. It was a rough childhood. But that story is probably total malarkey. There was, however, a fair amount of shit talk thrown down behind my grandparent’s back anytime we had Belgian waffles there.
After college I moved to Portland to set off on my post-graduate, adult life. Not owning a waffle iron of my own (yet), I did what every other 20-something SE Portlander did on a weekend morning in 2010: I went to the Waffle Window. The Waffle Window is a little side restaurant attached to a bigger restaurant, right off Hawthorne. As the name suggests, they sell waffle out of a window. All sorts of amazing waffles. Want fresh fruit and whipped cream on your waffle? They got it! Want fancy cheese, kale, bacon, or an egg on it? They got that, too! (It’s still a popular place to get waffles, btw). But what the Waffle Window doesn’t have? Classic-style waffles. So I crossed enemy lines and ate Belgian waffles. A lot of them. My friends and I had like a weekly Sunday waffle meet up. (It was like Sunday Funday brunch but way cheaper cause a single waffle wasn’t that expensive and no mimosas). The Belgian waffles started to win me over. They were crispy, the larger squares held a sizable amount of toping, and they photograph beautifully. I started to think, “Maybe when I get a waffle iron, I’ll get a Belgian.”
Then Christmas happened. My parents bought me one of the All-Clad waffle irons from William-Sonoma I’d been wanting. It was a classic round. I was excited. It’s a great waffle iron — A++ really! The notion of buying a Belgian waffle iron was squashed. The very idea seem absurd. I already own a very good waffle iron that I like and it was a present from my parents! But I always wondered, what if? Something about the Belgian-style waffle still drew me in. Seven years later, I still want it. Every time I look at photos of waffles on Pinterest, I think about browsing Belgian waffle irons and I feel guilty. A little voice in my head reminds me that my parents bought me that classic waffle iron as a really thoughtful gift. Further more, would getting a Belgian waffle iron be a total betrayal of my family? After all, I’m a Holzgang! Holzgangs don’t eat Belgian waffles.
In all honesty, my parents probably won’t be hugely offended if I buy a Belgian waffle iron. Or maybe they’ll never come over for brunch again. (shrug emoji)
GRETCHEN IS A WRITER-BASED IN PORTLAND, ORE. SHE GOT HER START AS A JOURNALIST WORKING ON THE SUSTAINABLE FASHION AND RESTAURANT BEAT BEFORE MOVING INTO COPYWRITING AND ADVERTISING WORK. SHE CURRENTLY BLOGS AND WORKS AS A FREELANCE WRITER.