When writer Daniel Shumski started Waffleizer back in January, a blog devoted to the question “Will it waffle?,” we knew instantly that it was internet genius. Shumski was well known locally for a thoughtfully wry blog about selling fruit at the Green City Market, Fruitslinger. But it was Waffleizer, with its lush images and deadpan obsessive text about cooking everything from cheeseburgers to calamari in a waffle iron, that got him waffle-chef collaborators like Gale Gand and Rob Levitt, and national press ranging from Entertainment Weekly to public radio’s Good Food. Wisely sensing that every meme has its day, Shumski announced up front that he would stop after 30 answers to the “Will it waffle?” question. Today brings #29, the final one will arrive next week, and so we asked Shumski what he had learned from spending half a year chronicling his violations of his wafflemaker’s warranty.
What have you learned about us as a people from your experiences waffling?
We all basically want the same things. Clean water. Good schools for our children. And waffles.
So is there any recipe that you might actually come home after a day at work and fire up the waffle iron for?
Yeah, absolutely. I think it all starts with having the waffle iron on your counter, or at the very least easily accessible. I would definitely make waffle iron panini. And waffled french toast is in my regular rotation. Neither of those things require much extra effort and the results are pretty impressive — it’s transformative.
Which recipe do you think pushed the conceptual boundaries of waffles the furthest?
When you move away from batters and doughs, you’re probably pushing the boundaries of what people would consider making in the waffle iron. So probably one of the proteins. I’d have to give the nod to the Thai squid salad.
Like the squid salad, you waffled a lot of things that didn’t really have the basic physics of waffle batter. Which one was really the most challenging from purely a waffle science standpoint?
When I went to Birchwood Kitchen, we had a hell of a time getting the polenta to work. We were probably both thinking: “It’s polenta. It doesn’t seem so different from a waffle. Shouldn’t be a big deal.” But we had to do three or four run-throughs to get it right.
Is there anything you didn’t get to on the blog that you wish you had?
There was a chef I had been talking to about a collaboration for … I’d say six months. Really busy guy. I talked quite a bit to a lot of people on his team, but it just never came together. You know, in the scheme of things, if you’re trying to run a business or open a restaurant or build even a modest culinary empire, my blog should probably rank pretty low on your list of priorities. So I get it and I’m not upset or anything. Just a little wistful. He wanted to try waffling foie gras-stuffed jalapeno poppers.
Do you ever fear that this will haunt you forever? Like, you’ll be 70 and go on some talk show to promote your Pulitzer Prize-winning expose of something or other, and they’ll be like “Now here’s the guy who stuck falafel in his waffle iron!”
Well, for that to be the case I’d have to go on to do something better than this. And, let’s be honest, I might not.
The question for me is: Do I fear more that this will haunt me? Or do I fear more that it will vanish overnight from whatever wisp of a collective consciousness the Internet may have?
I don’t know the answer to that.