Techno Waffle

Food can build bridges with young people, says John Allan, and this month he shows you how the ‘Net can help.

Food can build bridges with young people, says John Allan, and this month he shows you how the ‘Net can help.

Well, it was only a few quid, but it’s turned out to be my best investment of the year. It makes friends for me, brings kids together, creates a receptive atmosphere for the gospel, encourages thoughtful silences, and leaves everybody thinking the evening was a bit special.

What? Oh, it’s an electric waffle maker.

You weren’t expecting that? Then you haven’t been to my cafe, sorry, I mean school chapel. Food is the most amazing bridge to friendship, and many great youth workers of past years have exploited this in their strategy. Those who were once trained chefs (take a bow, Matt Levett) will confirm it’s done their youth cred no harm at all.

So for several weeks this term I’ve been mass producing evangelistic waffles, and it’s worked brilliantly. How does food power work for you? If it doesn’t, maybe you should hone your skills and try some experiments.

If you’re totally clueless, there are basic cooking websites like StudentCook or BusyCooks to get you started. But then what do you produce? Teenagers love sweet stodgy desserts; I found loads of waffle recipes online, but if you haven’t got a machine, how about American donuts, which cook quickly in the oven? DonutRecipes and SecretDonutRecipe make the process really easy and suggest loads of flavours.

Kids also like disgusting stuff, so check American Hallowe’en pages like DivineDinnerParty or Associated Content for their delicacies. Platter of Doggy Poo, Dried Scabs and Mozzarella Eyeballs are among the more tasteful suggestions. (Better have an alternative title for your creations when the parents start asking questions...)

Of course, Americans use different recipe terminology, and if you’ve no clue about sticks of butter, cornstarch or eggplant, World Food and Wine translates everything helpfully. Good Cooking supplies measurement and temperature conversions.

Something to drink? If your kids are sophisticated enough, launch into mocktails (non-alcoholic cocktails). Easy recipes abound at HintsAndThings, UKBG, and Shloer. Not much work – but terrific impact.

And no, you can’t borrow the waffle maker. I’m using it all week..