In a month of health problems, grief, and overwhelming amounts of work, Husband and I took a weekend in a nearby city to cut the stress and try to recover a bit. I wasn’t feeling my best, but that is nothing that a plate of lemon ricotta pancakes couldn’t help. This memory is perfect for me – the most delightful crispy edge on the pancakes, the tart berry sauce they gave me, and of course the morsel of that amazing hash brown that I stole from Husband’s plate. Sometimes, especially on crazy Mondays, I like having pictures of past meals that have helped me to relax. This feeling of treasuring a sweet memory, a good moment in a good day, is so great for propelling me forward through the many tasks that lie ahead this week.
I love breakfast food – I mean, pancakes? Waffles? Bacon? All the fanciest and tastiest of breakfast foods are wonderful to me. When it comes to everyday, average breakfasts, though, I’m pretty weak: I’ll enjoy a bagel and cream cheese, or a big glass of fruit smoothie, but I have a hard time working up an appetite at 6AM and whatever I do manage doesn’t hold me till lunch.
When I learned on the Gastropod podcast that breakfast food is somewhat a modern invention, I felt pretty liberated; if in the past, most people just ate whatever they had lying around as leftovers for breakfast, I would do the same! Today I had leftover quinoa salad, filled with tomatoes and spinach and walnuts and feta, for breakfast, and it was wonderful: hit the spot and also was so full of protein that I didn’t get hungry!
It’s time to take breakfast to be another meal; one where, yes, we sometimes eat french toast because it is so delicious, but where most of the time we eat healthy veggies and proteins we need to get through our day, just like other meals! It is very comforting to realize that I’m not crazy for feeling a sugar-crash many mornings when I start off with a sweet-tooth breakfast. This is fine for a lazy Saturday morning, when I might actually enjoy a blissed-out morning reading and feeling calm, but at work, I want all systems go, and that means protein and nutrients aplenty. Quinoa, to the rescue!
I sometimes think about the composite parts of things we think are appropriate for breakfast – starches in toast, cheese in omelettes, sugar in muffins. For some reason, cupcakes aren’t breakfast and pizza isn’t breakfast, but their parts reconstituted make some timeless breakfast foods. Such was my thought process when, at a brunch place in Texas, I was told I could have tortilla chips and spicy queso for breakfast. I dove right in – queso is one of my favorite foods, if it counts as a food and not a condiment. The crunch of chips, creaminess of the cheese, and spicy kick of the melted-in peppers makes for my favorite combination. For something this delicious, I’ll buck tradition any day, and if the Texans say I can… more’s the better!
One time, Husband and I stayed at an AirBnB, an accommodation where people rent out a spare room for a night or two. It was inexpensive, and these people were so kind while still being so busy: we spent a whole evening together watching extreme sports videos while the hostess worked on a painting and chatted with us, and her husband showed us all the improvements they were in the process of making to their old farmhouse. This breakfast (I swear they gave us more than bacon, but they were quite generous with the bacon!) made me feel like I was staying with friends, not just with people who wanted a little extra cash.
Many of my best talks in graduate school didn’t happen in the classroom – they happened while eating the breakfasts at the Irish themed restaurant in town with E and S. Both of them were thoughtful women who wanted the best for ourselves and our classmates, but we all had our frustrations to vent, and there’s just something about buttery toast and fried potatoes that helps a person process the many ideas we confronted daily. We planned papers here; E told me her idea for what would be her first book here. I ate enormous pancakes with pecans and bacon in them, and I calmed down about my anxieties as a teacher here.