Waffle and compote workshop
The Alimentarium hosted primary school pupils for an activity funded by the Fondation Cleven, as part of the ‘fit4future’ programme.
A gourmet school trip to the Alimentarium. ©Nicolas Jutzi
Like 800 other Swiss schools taking part free of charge in the ‘fit4future’ project, a school from La Brévine applied to the Fondation Cleven for an invitation to one of the Alimentarium cookery workshops. Since 2005, ‘fit4future’, a trilingual programme active in all Swiss cantons, has been involved in health promotion among children, with the aim of making a lasting impact on their lifestyle. In Switzerland, over 150 000 primary school pupils, their parents and teachers have benefited from the initiative. Rémi* took part in the workshop and shares his impressions with us.
Rolling up your sleeves
Fabienne and Cécile, the activity leaders, greeted us in the hall and asked us which of the two classes was better behaved. As it was our class, we started cooking first. Cool! We got into teams and, first of all, we washed our hands really well. We then put on a red chef’s apron. You tie it like a life jacket with the knot at the front. On the menu: waffles and seasonal fruit compote. Fabienne told us there was a secret ingredient...but shh! It’s a secret.
Cécile gave us some egg yolk in a small glass. It looked like orange juice. We beat it with sugar and, after a while, the mixture became almost white. We then added some melted butter, followed by some milk and a few drops of lemon juice.
Then, Fabienne explained what the dry ingredients were: flour, baking powder and vanilla sugar. We mixed them together and added them to the liquid, stirring the batter well to make sure there were no lumps.
Thyme for the secret ingredient
Fabienne showed us her secret herb. It had tiny round leaves. We took turns to smell it. It smelled like lemon, but I didn’t know what it was. Mélanie* said, “It’s lemon thyme, my mum uses it to make tea.” We put a few leaves in the batter.
While the waffle machine was warming up, we used a spatula to add the whisked egg whites. The ladle that Fabienne had prepared held exactly the right amount of batter for one waffle. That made it really easy! We each added some batter to our waffle irons and had a countdown so that we all closed them at the same time. Waffles take five minutes to cook. We checked the time on the clock. While they were cooking, we started to prepare the compote.
We started by hulling the strawberries with a small knife, then we cut them lengthwise, making a tunnel with our fingers so as not to hurt ourselves. Finally, we cut them into small pieces.
But we had to be quick! It was time to take the waffle out of the machine, being careful not to burn ourselves. Oh! In one of the groups, the waffle got stuck on the lid! They thought it had disappeared! We added some more batter to cook another batch.
Afterwards, we cut some apples into cubes and put them in the saucepan. Cécile added a little bit of water and a spoonful of sugar to the chopped up fruit. Oh! It was already time to take the second batch of waffles out. Was there enough batter left to make another one? Just one more would be great. Using the spatula, we scraped the sides of the bowl to get all the batter out.
While the compote finished cooking, we wrote our names on the boxes we were going to use to take the waffles home. “Can I write ‘Mum’? It’s her birthday soon.” “Well, no,” said the teacher. “Because if everyone does that, we won’t know whose is whose, as we’ve all got a mum.”
Suddenly, things started to heat up in the kitchen and the last waffles were ready. Quick, quick! Action stations everybody! Luckily, Cécile, Fabienne and our teacher were there to help. Cécile added a magic ingredient to the strawberry compote: a tiny drop of balsamic vinegar. But shh! That’s a secret too!
While we were clearing up, Fabienne explained that the recipe for waffles is very old and that even the Vikings used to make them. We know that because someone found their waffle irons. She also said that we could add flavours to the waffle mixture, like cinnamon, for example. There are other cakes which are made in the same way, such as bricelet wafers. I’ve had those before! My grandma let me try some!
Fabienne said that the holes of the waffles looked like honeycomb, but I don’t think they do. In our geometry lesson, the teacher taught us that honeycomb is made up of hexagons not squares.
We’d finished! So we went to play and the other class came to cook.
At the end of the day, we all left with our box of waffles. We were very pleased with ourselves! In the train on the way back to La Brévine, our heads and hearts were full of memories and delicious smells.