March 25th is set aside to honor not one, not two, but three separate food holidays. While we’d love to tackle all three, it is a work day, and we have other pressing demands. However, as Meatloaf (the singer, not the food) famously said, “two out of three ain’t bad.” So today we’ll celebrate National Waffle Day and National Pecan Day, but skip National Lobster Newburg Day. Besides, that’s a dish similar to National Lobster Thermidor Day, which we already celebrated in January.
In the Rules section of this blog, I even mentioned today specifically: When there are multiple selections on a given day, we only have to try one. However, if we can incorporate more than one, we will. Using the March 25th example, if it’s Pecan Day and Waffle Day, we’ll make Pecan Waffles!
I guess we’re making Pecan Waffles, then!
I already talked about the history of waffles earlier this month, but I didn’t mention Cornelius Swarthout. He is credited with filing the first patent for the modern waffle iron in 1869. His patent (you can take a look at it here – it’s surprisingly detailed and complex) took a cast-iron skillet and added a hinged lid, with a divider for individual waffles. 42 years later, the electric waffle iron was invented by Thomas Steckbeck of General Electric, with a built-in thermometer to prevent the waffles from burning. But perhaps the most interesting waffle-inspired invention of all belongs to Bill Bowerman, track and field coach at the University of Oregon in the 1960s. Bowerman used his wife’s waffle iron to develop a sole for running shoes that was light and grippable. Hopefully he told her this before she made breakfast! Flush with success at the U of O, Bowerman started an athletic footwear distribution company with Phil Knight called Blue Ribbon Sports, which they renamed Nike. His Waffle Trainer (real name) shoe helped catapult Nike to international success in 1974.
Pecan is a species of hickory tree and is the only nut native to North America (other than Phil Spector). It comes from an Algonquin word meaning “a nut requiring a stone to crack.” Doesn’t get much more literal than that, folks. Like other nuts-that-aren’t-nuts (I’m thinking of you, almond), the pecan isn’t a true nut either, but rather the seed of a fruit. Potato, po-tah-to. Native Americans valued pecans as a food source because they provide 2-5 times more calories per unit weight than wild game, and can be eaten as is. Pecans that fall to the ground are still edible the following year, which I guess makes them nature’s leftovers. They were quite popular with Colonial Americans; Thomas Jefferson planted pecan trees at his home in Monticello, and after giving some to George Washington, he in turn planted pecan trees at his home in Mount Vernon. The U.S. grows 80-95% of the world’s pecan crop, with Georgia and Texas the top two pecan-producing states.
We had breakfast for dinner tonight, which allowed us plenty of time to make some tasty pecan waffles. Just a sprinkling of pecans in the batter, and the result was scrumptious!
That’s how you kill two birds with one stone, folks.