a love letter to breakfast
I just finished reading Edan Lepucki’s tremendous novella, If You’re Not Yet Like Me. I loved it for a number of reasons – that the characters feature overtly uncomfortable characteristics that remind the reader of the worst parts of ourselves, that the writing twists itself so beautifully but not unbelievably towards the ending – but primarily because of one character’s introduction of the phrase “Imagine Land.” Imagine Land is the place where we envision all of the things we really love coming true.
In my version of Imagine Land, it’s breakfast time all the time. I mean this in a temporal sense, having recently abandoned my longtime battle against admitting that I’m a morning person. There is so much to be said for waking up, and the earlier you do it means the greater the possibilities of the day ahead. That said, I’m not sure I would be such an avid enthusiast for the early hours if there wasn’t one thing propelling my rise from bed: my favorite meal.
I used to be jealous of the people I know who skip breakfast: they act too busy to eat, and their supposed productivity sets me on edge as though there’s more in life that I should be doing as I start my day. They look up from their work at two or three, and they casually say, “Oh! I haven’t eaten anything all day.”
If you are one of these people, I admire that attention to un-food-related things, and I can respect you. I may even like you very much, but I will never understand you, nor could I ever really love you. You see, it’s not just the need to start out my day with proper fuel that drives me towards the kitchen in the morning: it’s my genuine belief that breakfast food is the greatest of all meal categories.
Breakfast is the only meal category that features a socially acceptable sweet-or-savory option; it’s also the only one that functions suitably across all other food genres. On the weekends, it combines itself with later hours to serve as the leisurely brunch. At dinnertime, we have all (I hope) learned the valuable lesson that every thrown-together meal tastes better with a fried egg on top. You can eat a steak or a burrito for breakfast, but you can also eat dessert. Its versatility is astounding, and its ease is comforting: even on the hottest of summer days, I can throw a pan of oats, nuts, and fruit in the oven for half an hour and ensure a week’s worth of perfect granola.
It has long been falsly assumed that the way to my heart is through the convoluted path of rock & rolll. That path is dangerous, involves many slippery slopes, and tends to end badly. (They say things like “no one gets out of here alive” for a reason.) What few have realized is that my heart is governed by breakfast. Through the years, there is one kind of person above all that has managed to cut through personal clutter and go straight to my very core: the one who invites me to brunch before noon and then asks if I want to split the omelette AND the waffles.
There have been a select few who have done this, looked at me, and said, “I think I need to eat another breakfast.” Those people are the ones I count as my heroes.