The sky was grey and threatening, smothering smiles and casting a haze over the landscape. It was our first day in Brussels. I adjusted the straps on my purse, aware of the pressure cutting into my shoulder. “Wanna get a waffle or something?”
We had been walking all through Brussels on an empty stomach, since our arrival hours before. Our hollow stomachs, coupled with the overcast skies, contributed to our listless trudging and general annoyance with the world. Getting waffles seemed like the appropriate thing to do, as we were in desperate need of a pick-me-up.
We located a vendor packed with locals and took our place in line. (At this point I was regretting not taking French in high school, as everyone around us chatted comfortably in French.) I reached the counter and, determined to use what rudimentary French knowledge I had, I stammered, “Un gaufre vanille,” not sure if that was even remotely correct. It seemed to be close enough, as the woman behind the counter demanded two euro in payment. I took the receipt she gave me and headed around the corner to the counter around which the mass of people were huddling, vying to hand their receipts to the workers, like traders on the floor.
I stood in the mass timidly, observing the locals before I embarrassed myself, and when I was ready, I confidently handed the woman my receipt, nodded when she said, “Vanille?” and held out my hands to receive the steaming waffle, fresh from “oven” and wrapped in a sturdy triangle of paper.
Though I’d been warned it was hot, I took a nibble from the corner anyway. I found it rich, yeasty, and filled with pockets of sweet sugar. I didn’t want it to end.