Zimtwaffeln and Waffle Iron

Iron and Zimtwaffeln made by my father
Iron and Zimtwaffeln made by my father

My Jewish family has our own Christmas tradition. Every year we make cookies called cinnamon waffles, or Zimtwaffeln, using this waffle iron.  Every year my father nags me to learn how to make them. He reminds me that in a few years he will not be able lift the heavy cast iron press and I will have to make them annually for our family. He expects me to send a box to his future retirement home just as we have done for my grandmother every year. For now I watch as he flips the iron and steal pinches of the delicious almond dough when his back is turned. For me the cookies embody the holidays – if the cozy feeling you get while sitting in front of a fire with your family was an ingredient in a cookie; it would be in these cookies.

For my family the cookies, and the iron, have much more significance. The cast iron originally belonged to my great grandmother who lived in Germany. My great grandfather had the foresight to pack up the family and leave for America once the Nuremberg Laws were passed. The options were to stay in Germany and risk their own lives or come to a completely different world. So they left, bringing with them only a few of their most important objects for their new life. This 10-pound hunk of iron made their list of most valuable possessions. It represents a tradition and a life that my family had to leave behind. For me the cast iron waffle maker is a reminder of the past, a connection to my family, and a fun tradition I hope to share with my future children.

Place(s): Germany
Year: 1935

– Claire Michel

Relationship:  Grandchild of im/migrant Grandchild of im/migrant