Have you watched “Waffles and Mochi” on Netflix? This new show for kids, hosted by Michelle Obama, introduces young viewers to staple foods like eggs, mushrooms and salt. At the same time, it incorporates important life lessons through the adventures of puppet protagonists Waffles and Mochi.
For example, in the episode about pickles, not only do Waffles and Mochi learn to make their own pickles after breaking a very special jar of pickles. They also learn patience because pickles take time! Of course, this lesson comes via a time machine that they sit in for several days until the future arrives and their pickles are ready.
As they learn about different foods, Waffles and Mochi travel around the world to places like Italy and Japan, meeting with notable chefs and food enthusiasts. We get to see a kimchi festival, where the community comes together to create kimchi for those in need. One event I really want to go to now is a mushroom festival in (if I remember correctly) Pennsylvania.
10-minute Waffles cosplay 🙂
Meeting Chef Massimo
Another fun part was when they met with Chef Massimo Bottura, from Italy. He shared the story behind his famous dessert, a smashed lemon tart. An employee of his dropped a lemon tart on the kitchen floor. As Chef Massimo explained, everything in a high-end restaurant like his needs to be PERFECT, so dropping an entire dessert – yikes! However, he found beauty in the mess and decided to start serving the tarts upside down and broken.
According to this recipe on Epicurious, he explained the dessert this way. “[T]his dessert pokes fun at our daily striving for perfection and pristine beauty. I love the dynamics of a lemon tart but hate all the fuss—cream decorations and stubborn crusts. To get around all that nonsense, we purposefully crushed our tart. Of course, it isn’t just a one-liner but full of flavored experience from the most fragile crust to the peaks of tart, sour, sweet, cured, and candied lemon on the plate.”
After watching the show, you can go online to the Waffles and Mochi website for recipes and other activities. At the end of each episode, Michelle Obama gives Waffles and Mochi a scout-style badge for learning about a particular food. Kids can print and color their own badges after completing website activities.
A lot of the activities are fairly simple. For example, try putting mushrooms on half of your pizza, or counting the eyes on a potato. Since I’m always on the hunt for new dinner ideas, I wish there were more recipes on the site. I think there’s just one per featured ingredient. But still, they’re healthy and sound delicious, so we’ll give some a try!
Made the Waffles & Mochi “Tomato Candy” recipe – it takes 5 hours in the oven, but very yummy!
There is also a Pass the Love Waffles + Mochi fundraiser to help address food insecurity. They’re trying to raise $1 million that will be used to create healthy food boxes for families in need. Learn more about the fundraiser and food insecurity here.
Anyway, it’s a really fun, educational show. As this review by the New Yorker points out, it goes beyond just culinary information. It shows kids a diverse world and teaches about some really unique restaurants, such as the pizza restaurant that only employs deaf workers. As the show points out, the employees use their hands both to communicate and to create the food.
Joss especially loved the first episode about tomatoes, where they were trying to decide whether a tomato is a veggie or a fruit. Conclusion? It’s both! Technically a fruit, but used as a vegetable. He spent the next day telling people that tomatoes are both a fruit AND a vegetable. He also loves the beginning theme song, which goes, “Listen to your vegetables and eat your parents.” Since it’s kind of catchy, we both end up singing it, and I have to pretend to be horrified at what I’ve just said, haha.
My personal favorite part was when they’re talking about family trees as a lead up to learning what exactly mochi is made of. Waffles says something along the lines of, “Oh, well I have yetis on my mother’s side and waffles on my father’s side.” And no one questions it. It’s hilarious. Later in that episode, culinary historian Michael Twitty tells Waffles and Mochi about his family’s experience as slaves forced to grow rice in the South. (Read more here.) So along with humor and whimsy, it addresses harder truths about the world and can give parents an opening into having some of those conversations.
Tell me about your favorite Waffles and Mochi episode or scene. And if you’ve tried any of their recipes, I’d love to hear how it turned out! Or, if you have another favorite food-themed show that your kids enjoy with you, I’m always looking for something new 🙂