When an Irish man says goodbye to his native shores and dives head first into the international community, he does so to gain new experiences, to meet new people, eat new food, and drink new beers. He attempts to soak in the culture of the place he is in and tries to imagine the place it once was. He yearns to drive on the wrong side of the road and stay on the right side of the law. He wants an excuse to wear his flowery shorts that he bought in Penny’s and the shades he robbed on a night out. But first he needs to find the closest place that sells Denny’s sausages and Tayto.
The first thing is to locate the Irish bars and the second is the Irish food. I found Kiki’s Kwik Mart in Brighton fed my Mi Wadi, Hob Nobs, and Hula Hoops addiction. It took me a full six months here before I craved a Full Irish breakfast to such a point that my arteries were having little-to-no trouble transporting my blood and my arterial walls no longer resembled a forgotten-about grease tray from a George Foreman. I began to research. Boston being a reasonably small city with a sizable Irish population, I knew of a number of places to check.
As I read the menu from Mr. Dooley’s, it all seemed to fit the bill rather nicely – imported sausages, imported rashers, imported beans, imported tea, homemade brown bread and – my taste buds high-fived my stomach and my arteries began to weep as they mourned the end of their good run – Imported. Irish. Waffles. Everything I liked from home I had been able to substitute with something else except for two things*. Potato waffles were one of them. Instead of Smarties I eat dark chocolate M&Ms. For rashers I just learned to like American bacon. Instead of curry sauce and pepper sauce, I now eat everything with buffalo or barbecue sauces. And instead of unpasteurized milk straight from the cow, I refrigerate and drink my own urine because it is closer in taste to this 2% excuse they try to pass off as milk. Waffles were something I had failed to substitute.
We set off for Mr. Dooley’s one Saturday morning. I was Robert Langdon and Christina was the character played by Audrey Tautou – who turned out to be a direct descendant of Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene in The Da Vinci Code – as we set off in a much-less-daring-but-just-as-earth-shattering quest to find the Holy Grill (see what I did there?) that would toast those beautiful Bird’s Eye (or Green Isle – I wasn’t too picky) waffles to crispy perfection. The menu had been memorized and we both knew what we wanted. We still studied the menu just to see those three beautiful words written on actual paper – it made the whole thing more real for us.
My breakfast did not come with waffles but I was a greedy bastard and so pleaded with the waitress to allow me to trade fried potatoes for a couple of rectangular, potatoey tennis rackets sent to America by God himself. The waitress consented and I experienced my first stomach-erection since I realised you could suck tea through a Cadbury’s finger if you bit off the two ends. The fifteen minute wait for the breakfasts to arrive was more agonizing than waiting at one end of the Community Centre as your friend approached a girl at the other end and asked if she would shift you.
The breakfasts arrived. My stomach-erection disappeared as fast as if it had just been slammed in the freezer door. The menu betrayed me worse than the friend who, upon receiving rejection on my behalf, proceeded to shift the aforementioned girl himself. The waffles did not deserve to be called waffles. They were potato cakes – rectangular pancakes made from potato that taste like ass. I looked up at Christina across the table. Had I not been in the same potato-infused hell, I would have assumed there was a death in the family. She had built her entire breakfast on the understanding that there would be 2-4 fly swatters made from potato on her plate. She had been building this up more than me given her dependency on a narrower, more restricted food pyramid. Were there to be a waffle famine in Ireland while she was there, she would die. There would be no substitute, no poor house, and no emigration. She would starve to death.
We sat in stony silence. Neither knew how to react to our current predicament. We had never experienced this as a couple before. I decided that there was only one way to work past this. I wanted to grab the waitress by the throat and stuff her mouth full of potato cakes but I dealt with it the same way people have worked past their problems since the beginning of time. I ate. I absolutely inhaled my breakfast (all of which was delicious and the real deal, by the way – bar the “waffles”) and between mouthfuls I offered my condolences to a still tender Christina.
The search for the elusive waffles continues without much success. We move forward with a greater resolve, with hope in our hearts and a longing in our stomachs for the fluffy-yet-crispy heaven-crafted-but-toaster-made grid of potatoey goodness. We can find everything else (at a price) but waffles have so far proven to be the Kony of the search. The quest continues.
*For those of you still wondering, Mi Wadi is the other thing I cannot find a substitute for. Tea would be one but we have a life-time supply here in the house and, as such, have no need for a substitute.