For the better part of my life, it had never occurred to me that Belgians ate waffles; I figured it was just some quirk in the creation myth of the dish. But sure enough, land in Belgium and there they are, sprawled out in the windows of street-corner shops everywhere you turn, taunting passersby like a lineup of lingerie models. These beauties come from one of the main thoroughfares in Bruges, where tourists make easy prey for any Belgian with a waffle iron.

What makes the Belgian waffle superior to American waffles and pancakes is an aggressive dose of yeast, which not only lends the waffle some much-needed lift, it also provides just a whisper of that wild fermented flavor. At its finest, a Belgian waffle should be as light as a warm croissant, crisp around the edges, and sturdy enough to hold its own under a blanket of sliced bananas and molten chocolate. In Europe, these aren’t knife-and-fork breakfast affairs, but more like a it’s 4 pm and I’m hungry as hell so just keep your stupid silverware and let me cram this thing down my gaping maw type of snack. Yeah, more like that kinda thing. If you don’t end up with whipped cream on your nose or chocolate on your eyebrows then you really weren’t that hungry.