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Ode to a Gaufre

Two guest blog entries in little more than a week -- this is great!

Ode to a Gaufre

A guest blog by Missy

Souvenir shops are everywhere. In Paris, the Eiffel Tower can be purchased in many sizes, made from just about any material you can find. I have a small metal on sitting on my desk at work from the first trip. A trip to Paris also requires a stop at Ladurée for macarons to bring home, a visit to La Maison du Chocolat, and a cosmetic/perfume purchase or two.

But my mostest favoritest place to souvenir shop is at the grocery store. You can find all sorts of interesting goodies that can't be found at home (although with the array of ethnic markets, this is much less true nowadays) and even for stuff you can find here... just the fact that it comes from somewhere else, and the label is in a foreign language makes it more interesting. Jars of romescu sauce from Spain, Ajvar from Croatia, olive paste from Rome, Lizano sauce from Costa Rica, grapefruit jam from Germany... the list goes on. Even a normal spice bottle seems special when it says cannelle instead of cinnamon.

Being the mother of teenage boys, grocery stores have been a lifesaver for me when it comes to bringing them gifts. T-shirts start to get old, and what teenage boy wants a mini Eiffel Tower? Being teenage boys, they like to eat... and the grocery store has never failed me when it comes to finding something fun. I've brought them back tiny cans of coke from Korea and the Netherlands, a Russian brand of ramen noodles from Vladivostok, spaghetti-flavored potato chips, gingerbread cookies, Kinder candy, you name it.

But in the eyes of my children, there is nothing quite like Gaufres de Liège.

Gaufres de Liège

Gaufres de Liège.

Gaufres de Liège, also known as sugar waffles, have the look of a Belgian waffle, but a taste more akin to that of a glazed donut. My family first discovered gaufres several years ago after my mom (their grandma) came back from a trip to Belgium. She'd brought back a box of 24, and they didn't last long at all. I subsequently had several trips within the next year or so to Belgium and France, and I always managed to bring some home. Then I started traveling elsewhere in the world, and honestly, I forgot all about them.

Fast forward to a week and a half ago, when we were driving back to Paris from Giverny. We stopped at a huge shopping complex to go check out the Carrefour store, which is like a cross between Super Target and Costco. As we were walking up and down the aisles, I saw them. I may have shrieked. Then I started pulling packs from the shelves. I would have just bought an entire case of them, but I already had two full suitcases (I'll definitely be taking a different packing approach next time). I ended up with two packs for each of them (with seven waffles per pack), and then one more pack of the chocolate-covered ones to share. Frank wasn't entirely convinced that these were worth the excitement I was exuding, but he threw another pack of the chocolate-covered ones in the cart anyway, just to see.

Frank opened his pack in the car. "I'll just try one... then I'll take the rest home." (Yeah, right... they were long gone before we left Paris.)

Even having watched Frank devour his, I started having doubts on the flight home. I had bought wine for my parents, cosmetics for my sister, and some chocolates and macarons to share at work, but all I'd got the kids was waffles. Would they remember them? Would they still like them? Was I a bad mother for having spent a week in Paris and coming home with only $8 worth of snacks as a gift?

I got my answer on Thursday after picking them up from their dad's. I'd left the packages on the coffee table, and very shortly after they got in the house, I heard two loud yeaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhh's, and the ripping of plastic. In the last 48 hours, they completely decimated the package of chocolate-covered ones, and are each over halfway through one of their packages of the plain ones.

They remembered, they're happy, and right now... I'm the coolest mom in the universe. Yay me.

I seriously considered stopping by a local supermarket later during our week in Paris to buy more Gaufres, but then realized that if I did so, I'd simply take them home and eat them, and not necessarily with much help. And it's not as if the Belgians are known for their health food. So I resisted the temptation... this time.

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