I live in a small city in southern Oregon, practically perfect in every way; folks here are intellectually alive, culturally aware, decent and interesting. The valley is strikingly beautiful and the climate is mostly mild with the occasional decorative snow fall.
This is Shakespeare country, home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, welcoming thousands of tourists each season, so it was probably inevitable that cutesy Shakespearean puns would pop up as local businesses attached themselves to the tourist trade. We have a health food and vitamin shop known as All’s Well and two Puck’s Doughnut shops. When it comes to Inns and Bed and Breakfasts, all bets are off. The Bard’s Inn, The Windsor Inn, the Stratford Inn, Arden Forest Inn, A Midsummer’s Dream, Anne Hathaway’s B and B and Garden Suites, and a dozen equally Elizabethan spots clog the local directory of places to land in town.
I get it. Makes sense. And then, out of nowhere, banners fly announcing the arrival of the Waffle Barn. I like waffles; I like barns. But, hey! The combination is just wrong..
No matter how you pitch them, if you look at the pyramid of the major food groups, waffles belong right there at the base – securely anchored among the comfort foods. And when might you need some comfort? For a start:
Relationship in the dumpster? Passed over for promotion? Tried on clothes at the store and nothing fit? Contacted by an old flame an old flame on Facebook looking younger and better than ever while your profile picture looks as if had been taken at the morgue? IRS audit coming up? Black cloud hovering overhead? Wondering if it’s all worth while? Looking back at a life seemingly frittered away? Figuring out that your mom loved your sister more than she loved you?
Nothing is ever so daunting that it can’t be remedied with a late night ride on the Comfort Food Express. Any one of the food friends listed below and/or any combination holds the promise of immediate relief.
Mac and cheese, chocolate,pot pies, any pie, biscuits and gravy, chocolate chip pancakes, mashed potatoes, fried chicken, more chocolate, green bean casserole, chicken soup, tamale pie, any other kind of pie, more chocolate, chips and salsa, milkshakes, sundaes, tuna casserole, chili, chili fries, chili mac and cheese, pizza… and waffles.
Of course, comfort arrives in different guises as you bounce around the globe. Brits seem to hunker down with mooshy things, mashed peas, boiled potatoes, custards, the highly regarded Spotted Dick (pudding made with suet and custard) and Bangers and Mash (sausages and mashed potatoes covered in brown sauce). Drooping in Russia? Order up some solyanka, but make sure to ladle in a dollop of sour cream to mellow out the pickled cucumbers,cabbage, dill, and brine that make this hearty broth. Out of sorts in Poland? Try the makaron ze smietana, a frothy pasta with strawberries and cream. Yes, I said pasta with strawberries.
Butter, sugar, suet, fat, rich, sweet, salty – these are words that bring comfort.
I’ll tell you where comfort is not to be found.
In a barn.
Barns are for cows, and horses, and sheep, and hay, and grain, manure, and rats. Large animals live there doing what large animals do around the clock. People who work in barns dress for the job; no sandals, flip-flops, stiletto heels in the barn. They wear boots. Big boots, high boots, made of substances that can be hosed down daily. Hosing, sweeping, pushing extraneous animal matter around – that makes up a good part of the day in the barn, unless you have to get in the first cut before the next rainstorm, in which case, you live in a world of swirling hay, spears of which embed themselves at will in any available expanse of skin. Tossing hay long enough brings a shot at farmer’s lung, easy to contract after breathing in hay mold day after day. And, let’s hope you haven’t baled up and stacked hay that is too wet as no one likes to see hay spontaneously combust.
I happen to like the ways barns smell; I admit it brings happy memories and, yes, even some comfort when the wind blows the right way. Whatever involuntary Proustian reflex I might find in or around barns, however, would absolutely be shattered with the introduction of waffles, or chili fries, or mashed potatoes.
So, what are appropriate names for a waffle place? The choices are many and obvious:
Batter Up!, Waffle Tasty. Waffle Yummy. Waffle Good, Waffle World, Waffle Mart, Griddle and Determination, Love ‘Ya a Waffle Lot, Jawful of Waffle, Waffle Hut, Waffle Shack, Meet Your Waffle Maker, Waffle Irony, Full of Wa, Full of Wha? Waffle’s R Us.
Have to get Shakesperian around here? Hamlet, Eggs, and Waffles? Merry Waffles of Windsor? Much Ado About Waffles?
Would I turn around and pull in to any of these places? Probably. But if you really want to get my attention, it’s a lot simpler to just hang the banner –
Breakfast All Day – Waffles