Michelle and Barack Obama, executive producers of the new Netflix children’s series Waffles + Mochi, want kids to think about the food they’re putting in their bodies. Fighting childhood obesity was Michelle Obama’s signature platform when she held the title of First Lady for eight years.
Now, with Waffles + Mochi, promoting healthy eating is one of the key goals of the show. The series features two puppet stars, an assortment of special celebrity guests, a series of musical and animated entertainment and a few trips around the world to learn how food influences different cultures.
During some of these global adventures, title characters Waffles and Mochi, travel to South America to discover different dishes and ingredients. Since Waffles is brought to life with voice and movement by Latinx puppeteer Michelle Zamora, we’re guessing taking a trip below the equator probably feels as natural as anything else, especially since Waffles speaks a few Spanish words in a handful of episodes.
Of the nine Waffles + Mochi episodes, four of them feature enjoyable visits with Latinos who find some time to give the puppets a quick lesson in culinary arts. Here is a look at the four scenes.
Waffles + Mochi premieres on Netflix March 16.
Visiting the Salt Ponds
In episode two, Salt, Waffles and Mochi visit the salt ponds in Maras, Perú. When they get there, they think they’ve landed in an “ice cube farm.” One of the indigenous salt pond workers explains to them that if they are looking for salt, they are in the right place. Salt water, she says, flows from the mountains into the ponds. Then, the sun evaporates the water and leaves the salt behind. “Our families have worked in the salt ponds for centuries,” she says. After Waffles and Mochi learn how the salt is extracted, they take a few licks and ask for a jar of salt they can take back home to Michelle Obama, so they can add a little sodium to some of her baked goods.
Also, in episode two, the puppet pair take a trip to Los Angeles to the kitchen of Mexican-American restaurateur and author Bricia Lopez, who is the co-owner of Guelaguetza, a Oaxacan restaurant in L.A. During their visit, Waffles and Mochi get to help Lopez make mole coloradito, which calls for chocolate and salt in its recipe. After explaining what mole is and where it comes from, Lopez shows them all the ingredients they are going to use to make the dish like chile guajillos, oregano, thyme, sesame seeds, cloves, allspice, cinnamon, almonds, garlic, raisins, onions and breadcrumbs. She also teaches the two how to use a molcajete to grind things up. Before they know it, they’re sitting around a dinner table eating mole with new friends.
Learning About Papas
In episode three, “Potato,” Waffles and Mochi travel to Valle Sagrado, Perú, to meet Manuel Choqque Bravo, also known as “The Potato Whisperer.” There, Manuel shows the duo a few interesting potatoes that grow in the Andes Mountains that “are really delicious when cooked.” He tells them that there are over 5,000 varieties of potatoes and teaches them how to grow the vegetable. Later, they visit Manuel’s friend Chef Pia León who teaches Waffles and Mochi how to cook the potatoes inside a huatia (Peruvian earthen oven).
In episode eight, Corn, Waffles and Mochi fly to Lamay, Perú, where they learn how to make a dessert out of corn. They get a lesson from a street vendor who shows them how to make mazamorra morada. “And guess what?” she says. “It’s made out of purple corn.” The news blows Waffles’ mind. Mazamorra morada is made with cinnamon, cloves, purple corn and pineapple. “Whoa, it’s sweet and fruity,” Waffles says after he eats a big spoonful.