A Pocket of Sweetness
From what I’ve seen so far, there are two philosophies on farmers’ markets. One is of the hyper-local paradigm. Everything sold at the market must be grown within a 200-ish mile radius of the market. Produce should be grown with respect to the environment (no-no on harmful pesticides) and animals should be treated like animals, with room to hang outside and eat what their bodies are meant to eat (not corn, corn, corn, corn, corn). If vendors sell prepared food they must also adhere to locally grown ingredients and use the least amount of packaging possible.
Then there’s the farmers’ market that features produce, as well as crafts and ready made food, without abiding to an all-local creed.
A carbon footprint rant will have to wait for another day, as I found the latter type of market (raved about here) in Long Beach, California. Most of the produce came from a few hours from SoCal. But not all vendors followed. This is where I found Patrick Pirson and his hyper-authentic, yet totally not locally sourced waffles.
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Liege waffles are named after a town in Belgium and have a yeasty batter, almost like a brioche, explains Pirson. But that’s not what makes them inherently different from other Belgian, or Eggo, or whatever Williams-Sonoma batter waffle you’ve previously doused in syrup.
It’s pearl sugar. (See dough above.) The sugar must be imported from Belgium. And this sugar is special. “It doesn’t melt right away,” Pirson sheepishly gloats, “so it stays in a clump for a pocket of sweetness.” There are plenty of pockets of sweetness checkered within each waffle, a staple street food in its home county.
And actually, waffle shops found their way to every neighborhood when I was in Japan and South Korea this May. I cannot, however, verify if they are still adding delicious, and unseen, calories on the hips of the legging-wearing women of those countries.