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A World's Fair reverie

April 21 will mark the golden anniversary of the 1964-65 New York World's Fair.

That's right: 50 years.

It will rekindle memories of seeing the Pieta, while moving along on a conveyor belt; standing in line to board the Ford "Magic Skyway" and GM's "Futurama"; first hearing Disney's "It's a Small World"; learning about "The Triumph of Man" via Travelers Insurance and dinosaurs courtesy of Sinclair Oil, and rising to the top of Philip Johnson's New York State pavilion.

I spent a lot of weekend time at the fair. My father was manager of the Mexican pavilion. I had my first taste of Mexican food, plus sushi, curry and sangria, during that very upbeat, appetizing, celebratory spring. After all, I also saw Sandy Koufax pitch at Shea Stadium.

And I remember going with him to the Belgian Village, where I tasted what must be one of the Baby Boom's madeleines: the Bel-Gem waffle.

Bel-Gem was the official name of the yeasty, malty, crisp waffle that became my official World's Fair treat. It was topped with whipped cream, strawberries and, if I remember right, powdered sugar. And it was 99 cents. We ate so many of them that I'm still shocked the fair was a financial flop.

No matter. I plan to make a few of them at home. I don't have Maurice Vermersch's magic machine, or for that matter his exact recipe. But I'll come up with something close -- my own private gaufre de Bruxelles.

Peace through understanding, indeed.
 

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