The two may not have much in common but together, they create a symphony of sorts. To wreath the laden prose of Woolf with the sunny temperament of waffles dotted with raisins, you need languor-sodden afternoons when any resolve aimed at productivity seems intrusive. Accompany each sentence with bites of browned, eggy squares topped with a surreptitious lick of maple syrup as you try to turn pages with the tenacious grip of a weakly pinky. And a cup of vanilla tea to top it off. Dainty elderflower drinkers, look away. This vanilla tea is the kind you brew robustly with milk, thicken with spice and a touch of ginger.
The book in question is Jacob’s Room, my second attempt because the first time round I was impatient and couldn’t appreciate the pace. This time I’m savouring the sentences, rolling the words around like marshmallows on my tongue. Woolf’s stories are like mille feuille—a million layers of flaky pastry stacked into a sublime tower of sentiments. Jacob’s Room is an introspective read, very atmospheric and descriptive. Entire paragraphs are devoted to scenes of daily bustle on roads, characters letting their minds wander into self-centred circles and the sea. She may as well have painted in vivid shades mottled, grey skies and the dignified rustles of cliffside fauna.
It takes a while to get through the book, to appreciate its meandering narrative. In spurts it rests, ruminates, delves into Jacob’s perpetually perplexing nature for pages on end. Readers are not welcomed into his head, they are to quietly observe and hope he doesn’t look up alarmed and decide to fall into a reverie. Now you know why you need waffles to go with it.
It’s the first happy lot of waffles, a little chewy and somewhat waffly, which brings me to the subject of the waffle stick maker. It’s a compact cutie that churns up six waffle sticks in the space of five to seven minutes. I haven’t had the pleasure of using the traditional waffle iron but this one works just as well. I am indebted to darlingest Alison for this, who picked up the best gifts anyone could wish for, including a set of lovely mason jars. But I digress.
These waffles are great with compote.
Milk – 1/2 cup
Butter/Oil – 2 tbsp
Egg – 1
Flour – 3/4 cup
Cinnamon – 1 tsp
Baking powder – 1/2 tsp
Sugar – 1/3 cup (I use brown sugar)
Vanilla essence – 3/4 tsp
Mix the dry and wet ingredients separately, barring the sugar. The sugar needs to be whisked with the egg and milk. Throw in anything slightly chewy you may have handy—raisins, cherries, apricots. They add these pockets of tart flavour, which offset the mild sweetness of the waffle.I can also imagine chocolate chips complementing waffle batter, but not the precocious squat drop-shaped ones. Just hack roughly at any chocolate bar and sweep the resultant chocolate shavings and uneven bits into the batter. They say the batter should not be overmixed and be left lumpy for the best results.