What do y’all eat for breakfast?
People say it’s the most important meal of the day. I’m not sure how many of us still treat it that way. Homer Huckaby sure did. That was my daddy, and he cooked breakfast for my family throughout my childhood.
Bacon, eggs, grits and toast — with cantaloupe in the summer and grapefruit in the winter. Hotcakes, as he called them, and sausage on Sundays. I never realized I was spoiled, but I was.
I made my kids Toaster Strudel and put a “J” on each one — their initial — with the icing that came in those little plastic pouches, and thought I was Father of the Year. Sometimes I didn’t even do that. Sometimes I just had them pour their own Captain Crunch or Fruit Loops and milk, patting myself on the back because we used the healthy “2%” variety.
Bob Dylan. The times they were a changin’.
But I’m on the road a good bit nowadays, and it is interesting to see what folks do for breakfast in other parts of the country and around the world. In certain parts of Europe, they eat a lot of really good bread for breakfast. Croissants. But not hard ones. Soft and flaky with various varieties of jams and jellies and preserved figs. It almost makes up for all the pickled fish and poached eggs and them not having grits.
A lot of places in the United Kingdom and beyond offer traditional English breakfasts. They serve pork and beans and roasted potatoes and baked tomatoes, along with semi-cooked scrambled eggs and a lot of different cheeses and scones so hard your teeth are in danger with every bite.
I don’t eat any scrambled eggs from any breakfast buffet. You never know where they might have been. Or if they were made from powdered eggs. Powdered eggs in the morning can create problems all day and give a whole new meaning to the term “constantly on the go.”
You don’t have to travel around the world to experience vast differences in the breakfast experience. Right here in the good old U.S. of A. we have lots of differences in breakfast traditions. I saw a television special a few weeks back on Bubba Smith, the football great, who wanted to play college football in his native South, but the color barrier hadn’t been broken in major universities yet, so he matriculated to Michigan State with his considerable size and inestimable talents.
In the documentary he was talking about the culture shock and how homesick he was, especially for his grandmother’s cooking. He said that he came down for breakfast the first morning and was introduced to oatmeal and cream of wheat. “Where’s the grits?” he asked an older teammate, who responded with the age-old quip immortalized by Joe Peski in “My Cousin Vinny,” “What’s a grit?”
Bubba Smith said that he was so hungry for one of his grandmother’s cat-head biscuits that he could have cried by the end of two weeks.
I am in Michigan, myself, this week, but the lady who served my breakfast Monday morning brought me a nice big bowl of stoneground grits, and once I doctored them up with just the right amount of salt, pepper and calves’ butter, they were fit to eat. She also brought me corned beef hash and fried potatoes with my eggs over medium, which I couldn’t bring myself to sample.
I was at basketball camp once, at Myrtle Beach, S.C. — in my younger days, before I had learned to be more gracious — and sat down to order breakfast. I asked the waitress to bring me two eggs so runny they were practically raw, two slices of bacon burned to a crisp, a cold glob of grits, stale toast and cold coffee. She looked at me horrified and said, “Sir, I couldn’t possibly bring you a breakfast like that!”
I said, “Sure you could. You did yesterday!”
Speaking of travel breakfasts, my mama always wanted to go to Blairsville and spend the night on the weekend in October with the full moon. She wanted to stay at the Hotel Milton. We usually carried our own food when we travelled, but she would splurge for breakfast there. That’s where I learned to eat country ham, and they had the best. It would make sweat beads pop out in your forehead. I wish I had some now.
My buddy Dave and I used to eat breakfast at the Waffle House every Wednesday. Sometimes Sir Henley the Adorable, my grandson, would join us. I’ve been on the road too much lately, and I miss Dave’s company and I miss my hash-browns scattered and smothered. All this talk of breakfast has thrown a craving on me.
Next Wednesday, Dave. You know the time and place. Get the coffee hot, y’all.