Sunday, January 10, 2010

Breakfast—America's underrated treasure

In the immortal words of Homer Simpson, "Mmmmm....breakfast."

Our diets have certainly evolved over time. Who among us remembers sitting down to a dinner table consisting of, maybe, some sort of cream-of-mushroom-based casserole, a nice fruit salad made up of Mandarin oranges, coconut, mini marshmallows and whipped cream, and a big, old stack of buttered white toast? Top it off with some apple pie constructed with real lard, and our young arteries cried out, "Enough, already! We will not be your body's Stepford wives!"

Our lunches weren't much better. We might open up that Six Million Dollar Man lunch box in the cafeteria to reveal a bologna sandwich garnished with some Miracle Whip and a Kraft Single, nestled between two slices of that same white bread that constituted last night's toast pile. Throw in a Twinkie or Hunt's Snackpack pudding can, and we were preserved through that third, two-o'clock recess.

Going further back in the same day, breakfast was the overlord of all things boxed and sugary. I usually started my day with Cocoa Puffs, Froot Loops, Pop Tarts, Trix, Kix, Chex, Sugar Pops or Super Sugar Crisp. Too bad my mom wasn't willing to pour me a little mug o' Maxwell House to really start the day off right. On weekends, she might whip up some bacon, eggs and, of course, the toast pile.

Since those days, we've all come to our senses, and embraced the oat bran craze, the low carb craze and the anti-oxidant-fit-for-life, don't-eat-it-if-it's-beige craze. But throughout all of the madness, nothing compares to the Classic American Breakfast, served up cafe style. Sure, I'll stay the course with the Grape Nuts or any other colon-friendly cereal during the week, but on Saturday or Sunday morning, bring on the greasy spoon.

Bring on the elderly waitresses who refer to me as "honey," "sweetie," or "dear." Bring on the bottomless cups of Sanka and the plastic "glasses" of ice water. I'll wait in the lobby for a table to open up, even if the door hits me in the butt occasionally, and my unshowered body calls for sweats and a baseball cap in order to get there before they stop serving breakfast.

Because it's all worth it, the moment that seemingly frail, little waitress strolls over with four satellite-dish-sized plates on her forearms. Yes, that one's mine—the eggs benedict with the mountain of hash browns.

And, naturally, the toast pile.

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