Chia Te & Woodhouse. Miscellaneous fun times.
Feast. Pineapple cakes and peanut butter banana waffles.
Exercise. Illegal wushu/bboying and two-wheeled fun.
It was one of those days in Taiwan. Relaxed, non-rushed, no plans (pretty much the entire Taiwan trip). Rock and I hadn’t exactly figured out what we were doing that day nor had we figured out where we actually were.
Wandering around post Beijing-Do-It-True, we somehow ended up on the main campus of Taiwan National University on the equivalent of Citi-bikes. The whole experience oddly reminded me of UC Davis (for those of you who haven’t explored the wonders of UC Davis, it’s a supremely bike friendly campus). Bicycles here, bicycles there, pedestrian friendly, etc etc. It was here that we got our dose of non-native people watching (or non-native people dodging).
We crept around the inside of some of the buildings, unsure whether or not campus security would show up promptly to remove us from the premises. It didn’t happen. We found our way to a gym, with open rooms, Kendo gear, and an assortment of mannequins and Wushu blades (all out in the open!). I proceeded to bboy in the open space while Rock began beating up on the mannequins. It was sort of hilarious, until a soft spoken woman walked in on us and informed us that this was supposed to be a locked area. Fun-time was over. I’m surprised they didn’t ask why we had blades out and about…
Upon exiting, we gravitated towards a small shack in the center of the university called “Woodhouse,” which was serving up all sorts of interesting waffle combinations. I can’t quite recall if the shack itself was made out of wood, so I can’t say that the whole scene was ridiculously ironic. Regardless, the waffle batter smelled pretty wonderful, and with all the chocolatebananaicecream toppings, it sort of felt like a mobile Willy Wonka factory (they had somewhere in the vicinity of 20-30 highly olfactory-stimulating toppings). Once again, I had difficulty discerning the characters on the menu, but no worry…in the land of food, your senses are all that you need.
It’s surprising how much information our eyes can tell us. I wasn’t completely oblivious in speaking or reading Mandarin, in fact, my communication was satisfactory. There was always room for improvement, but for the time being, it would do. Sometimes, the menu isn’t even needed to order; all you have to do is look at who is order what types of food and the general direction that they are coming from. If you’re really curious and/or dying for confirmation, you can ask them where they got it and how they got recommended, which isn’t a bad starting place to practice any language. You might feel like a tool if you’re severely unfamiliar, but that goes with the “learning” territory. It’s perhaps the purest method of “word of mouth,” (which actually might be more like word of eye, followed by word of mouth, with the end goal of “full of stomach”).
Onto the prized food question of the day. Why doesn’t waffle batter stick?
1. The chemistry of Teflon. 2. The oil present in the batter. 3. Caramelization and the searing.
The reason those waffle irons don’t make an absolute mess upon waffle removal is first and foremost, the use of advancing technology. Teflon, or polytetrafluoroethylene, is basically a high molecular weight polymer that is hydrophobic and exhibits high London dispersion forces (repulsive forces), basically conferring a very low coefficient of friction (a.k.a, doesn’t stick). In fact, they coat certain types of clothing with Teflon, and whaddeya know, the water rolls right off. Of course there’s some downside to using a chemical; at extremely high heats, you might end up eating it, since it comes off the pan.
Oh teh noes! What happens if you’re on an island, and you only have a magical tin of waffle batter and a hot, non-Teflon coated surface? The horror! What to do then?
You’re in luck. Hopefully, whoever made your magical tin of waffle batter was smart and actually used oil in the batter. The oil present in the batter is the first quality that confers protection from ripping, tearing, and general adhesiveness to a cooking surface. Oil here, acts as a lubricant. Stickiness occurs when bonds form between your food and the cooking surface. This is further exacerbated when the cooking surface is unevenly heated and unevenly distributed.
That’s the easy explanation. It’s simple to say that oil on the pan is simply a lubricant (oh it’s oily on my hands, so it’s oily for the food as well). This is partly true. This effect, in actuality, is called “patina,” when oil saturates the reactive metal/cooking surface as to leave no molecules to react with your food (no reactions, no bonds, no sticking). When oil is heated to very high temperatures, whatever hits this hot oil is certainly going to lose water by evaporation. The evaporation of water causes what’s called a “steam effect,” (not very creative) where the water loss actually microscopically “lifts” the food off of the pan, preventing sticking (YES hover-crafting waffles). Now you know.
Caramelization and searing leaves behind carbon residue (obliterated carbons of varying lengths). These spent carbons are a physical impediment to bond formation between food and pan. They also are not very conducive to health. We want golden brown and delicious, not blackened and carcinogenic.
End of the day: Pineapple cake. I can’t complain. I don’t think this needs any sort of scientific explanation.