September 9, 2009 9:56:00 AM
At last week''s charrette, one of the questions posed to us was a form of "what would you like to have in Columbus that you don''t already have?" Among various responses was this one: "A good breakfast place."
A few weeks prior to this, I was listening to a wonderful song on YouTube referred to as "The Breakfast Song." Two gospel singers go through every possible meat, beverage, cereal, bread or method of cooking eggs you can imagine to tell us that one day we won''t need any of this when we get to heaven. And, I would have to agree. It''s a really catchy song, and it makes me giggle. So, I''ve been thinking about breakfast.
Breakfast is the meal so many say is their favorite, yet it usually has so little attention paid to it. At breakfast, we are setting the tone for the day over the table. It''s the time to come together after rest and connect. It''s a chance to kiss or hug goodbye and wish everyone a good day. Or, at least it''s that way in a perfect world.
I associate breakfast brimming with fresh eggs, platters of various meats, bowls of fruit and plenty of hot coffee with the South. I don''t really know why. It''s certainly not how it was in my home, although my daddy did eat breakfast before leaving for the university -- the same meal every morning: one fried egg, grits, toast and coffee, with a glass of juice.
My mother also had the same meal every day, but hers was in bed. She loved breakfast in bed with her small pot of coffee (instant, never brewed, no matter how hard her grown children tried), thin-sliced toast (we even had a thingamajig that could make this happen) and bacon. She savored this repast while reading the morning paper and watching the news. (I don''t know what happened to my mother''s breakfast tray with the pockets on either side to hold the paper; I wish I had it.)
A valued resource
In 1987, Marion Cunningham''s "The Breakfast Book" was published. The author is now in her late 80s and lives in Walnut Creek, Calif. She wrote "The Fannie Farmer Baking Book" and was responsible for the revised edition of "The Fannie Farmer Cookbook." She is one of those cooks who we foodies owe a bow of reverence to. She appeared long before the Food Network or chef reality shows.
Marion loved cooking and simple, good food -- nothing too complicated or fussy. She oozes comfort and warmth. Here is what she says about breakfast in bed:
"One of the most blissful escapes is breakfast in bed, with something good to read. Breakfast in bed is cozy, quiet and private. ... As one is propped up in bed the world falls away, and breakfast becomes what some poet called ''a parenthesis in time.''" Ahhhhh.
I haven''t tried a lot of Marion''s recipes. I married late, and making "whole wheat granola waffles" for one just didn''t appeal to me. But I have made her well-known coffee cake, as well as the cream biscuits and several muffins for my store.
So, what the person asking for a breakfast place wants, I don''t know. I mean, there are outlets to get food in the morning. But, is anyone making soft, fluffy homemade biscuits? Or stone-ground grits? Or quick breads or granola?
A place with a big ol'' smile for me when I walk in -- rather than being made to feel that if it weren''t for me, the crew wouldn''t have to be up and working so early -- is nice. There are several within a few hours of us.
John Currence, chef/owner of City Grocery in Oxford, opened Big Bad Breakfast a year or two ago. In Tuscaloosa, Ala., The Waysider was on Esquire Magazine''s list of 50 top breakfast places in the country. (I''ve never been). Outside of Nashville, Tenn., the Loveless Café makes the best biscuits I have ever eaten, really truly. So it can be done, and I know it takes work.
We used to serve a simple breakfast at Foodworks. We were there early anyway and always made biscuits, so we just added some fabulous creamy cheese grits and made biscuit sandwiches.
Maybe we should take a minute and rethink the morning. Or, have breakfast for supper once a week.
I''d like to close with a few of Marion Cunningham''s 14 rules of "Breakfast Table Civility and Deportment":
n Because everyone is defenseless at breakfast, there should be no contentiousness or crossness.
n Don''t answer questions in a saucy manner.
n Clean fingernails, please
Well, it''s the least we can do.
GREAT COFFEE CAKE
Two sticks butter, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup sour cream
(Recipe from "The Breakfast Book" by Marion Cunningham)