Eat Me. Drink Me.

Why We Eat. Why We Drink. Why We Write.

Category: Breakfast

Beautiful, Beautiful Bacon

by lyzpfister

I miss bacon.

There is no bacon in Germany.

There is speck. There is pork belly.

But there is no bacon.

Bacon is what love is made of. Bacon is salt and fat, gnawed-upon muscle with crunch. Lips licked of grease and an old-timey taste of applewood or hickory. Bacon is hot Christmas morning and hungover brunch. It is the marriage of egg and potato hash, the slash of red on a diner’s cream plate. Bacon is being fed in bed and being too small to reach the stove. Bacon is getting your hand smacked for stealing strips still hot and popping. Bacon is burning your tongue. Bacon is burning your tongue again. Bacon converts vegetarians or is what vegetarians dream of even when they don’t dream. The scent of it sinks into clothes like the damp whiskey smell of campfire seep. Like a hazy summer morning on the East coast. Without bacon there is no baked beans, there is no avocado sandwich, there are no dates wrapped in bacon blankets set on a plate in a restaurant in Seville, next to tiny octopi in oil, olives, and chopitos. Bacon is the what I make for you because I like you and the what you make for me because you like me. It’s also the what I make for myself when no one’s looking. Germany, oh land of beers and brats, oh land of cheeses and sausages, spätzle and baked breads – what I wouldn’t give for bacon.

Cannonball

by lyzpfister

photoshop courtesy of Andy Cable

This is what happens inside my body when I drink coffee.

Breakfast is Beautiful

by lyzpfister

I have been trying to write this post for a while.  I’m not really sure why it’s so hard for me to articulate what I want to say, because really, it comes down to this:  breakfast is great.  And sub-points:  breakfast is great because of the epic struggle for supremacy between variety and ritual.

Sub-point A: Variety

Today, for breakfast I am eating a pita fried with two over easy eggs and topped with cilantro, avocado slices, and hot sauce.

But it could just as easily have been oatmeal.

There are so many breakfast options.  Toast, pancakes, waffles, cold pizza, bagels with cream cheese, herring and crackers, biscuits, bacon, homefries, hashbrowns, cereal, müsli, grits.  Let’s not even get into eggs.

With all those delightful choices, how could you limit yourself to the same thing every day?

Sub-point B: Ritual

Most people breakfast alone.  The unspoken rule is that plus one makes brunch.  This could be because brunch is festive (this, in turn, could be because it’s still faux pas to have bloody marys with breakfast).  Or it could be because we each have morning rituals, performed in solitude, to gather energy and sanity for the rest of the day.

When and how I make breakfast is a part of my silent, calm morning time – the actions themselves rituals.  I’ve been waking up early recently to do writing in the morning when my brain is fittest (post-college, I realize that I’m a morning person).  So I wake at 8:30, crawl down from my loft, brush my teeth, sit at my desk and try to form my first coherent thought, pick the clothes up off the floor from where I threw them the night before, and go make breakfast.  Then, I sit here looking out at the freshly fallen snow (Editor’s note: see how long I’ve been trying to write this?! It was 74 degrees the other day) through my floor to ceiling windows, making sure the ratio of egg yolk to sriracha to parsley to buttered toast is just right and being warmed by hot cappuccino and the space heater plugged in next to me.

Having a morning routine does not necessarily mean eating the same thing every breakfast, though it might.  One of my roommates, for instance, eats two pieces of toast spread with hummus and topped with two soft-boiled eggs every morning.  Every morning, my father has a cup of coffee and a slice of toast with marmalade or apple butter.  Until it began to conflict with his current diet, my grandfather ate oatmeal every morning for breakfast.

Argument: How, like two great white sharks, ritual and variety battling for control of the ocean creates tension, like a tightrope with the strength to support the rest of the day’s struggles as well as any mixed metaphors you might encounter

I find myself to be somewhat of a rogue breakfaster.  Other than my morning cappuccino made with Illy espresso, frothed milk, and sugar, anything goes.  (Editor’s note:  Finding the coffee mug in these pictures is sort of like playing Where’s Waldo.)  Since moving to Brooklyn, I have made some beautiful breakfasts.  Some of my most brilliant creations have evolved out of a desire to use up leftover food in the fridge.  See: a stack of pancakes topped with bacon, crumbled blue cheese, and agave nectar.

My breakfasts are not always complicated.  Sometimes, I boil an egg.  Or stick a Pop Tart in the toaster.  Or have a bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats.  My current breakfast binge is a toasted bagel with cream cheese, which is straightforward enough.

Let me explain the tension:  In the morning, life is still uncomplicated (ok, this is so, so poetic-general).  What to eat for breakfast is the first real choice you have to make for the day.  What do you want that will focus your mood and energy and what do you need?  Most of us are probably not conscious of making these choices, being still sleep-groggy.  But it’s the reason you choose Earl Grey and buttered toast instead of waffles and syrup.  What all of my breakfasts have in common is that they are chosen based on how I feel within the constraints of my morning ritual.  Variety within ritual.  Take that, great white sharks.

Thesis: Breakfast is great

In other news, I have started writing a weekly food column for the blog Glasses Glasses, so if you want to join the game called “Lyz tries to find something creative to write about food at least once a week,” check it out!

Eat Late, Even Great (a post by Lyz)

by lyzpfister

Carlisle, Pennsylvania, nestled in that sweep of country where the chain gang of American cuisine settled, is not what could be called a diner’s paradise.  Like roadside crosses in the Bible Belt, Applebee’s, Chili’s, Red Robin, Olive Garden, Panera, and every iteration of the Chinese Buffet dot the landscape with neon signs and trademarked logos.  If it sponsors a commercial with glistening stacks of ribs, steaming bread, oozing chocolate, delightful-seeming, hunger-inducing, mouth-watering, wallet-trimming images on late night TV, you can find it in Carlisle.

Every now and then a gem tumbles through town.  A quaint café, an Indian restaurant cum hookah lounge (!), a sushi place.  But these wonders come and go, ephemeral delights squashed under the heavy-handed thumb of reliability and seven dollar margaritas.  Many of my friends have done their time waitressing at Chili’s or Red Robin, and we’ve been known to indulge in a stack of short ribs from Texas Roadhouse without feeling bad at all, but when I think about where I want to eat when I make the journey back to PA, my first thought is always for the diner.

I did a lot of theater in high school (and I was in band – ok you can make fun of me now).  After every performance, the whole cast would go to the Diner for scrambled eggs, buttery toast, French fries, fried mushrooms, bacon, pie piled with whipped cream, omelets, and hash browns.  The Diner was for special occasions like that and conversations which just itched to be held late at night – crises of prom dates and friend fights, gossip mongering, life debriefs.  Of course, after we left high school, we learned to appreciate a beer or two, and after you’ve had a few beers, any occasion is a special occasion.  So now, when we see each other on holidays or opportunely timed visits home, the diner is where we often end up after a round or two at the G-man.  Though the conversation topics seem eerily familiar.

Unless you drive a truck, it’s kind of a rule that you can’t go to the diner before midnight or after six in the morning.  Diner ambiance is designed to soothe your night-addled brain.  A porcelain mug, with rounded edges and a hairline fracture dyed the color of dark coffee.  Heavy, white plates.  Cream colored walls accented by the same wallpaper that’s in your grandmother’s bathroom, Formica tabletops, vinyl booths, unobtrusive yellow light.  If you are still thinking at three in the morning, your brain doesn’t want to think about food in addition to your life’s current calamity.  Your brain needs canola oil for frying, butter and jelly, mozzarella sticks and marinara sauce.

The late-night diner phenomenon is not one strictly limited to Carlisle’s diner.  Diners everywhere beg to be frequented when your body really needs nothing more than to be in bed.  There’s a diner near where I work in New York that serves pancakes with piles of whipped cream and real strawberries, homefries scrambled with peppers and onions, crisp bacon, and eggs sunnyside up.  Sometimes I’ll go if I’ve just gotten off the closing shift or after late night wanderings through SoHo with friends.  I find their yellow, beveled plastic cups, just like the ones my hometown diner uses, comforting.

I appreciate the diner’s inimitable nature.  Its closest cousins can’t compete.  Brunch is too crisp and elite, fried chicken too social, breakfast too personal.  The diner is intimate and casual, comforting, yet slightly squalid with grease and ketchup.  The diner is dining out’s guilty pleasure.  Although I won’t say I don’t often dream about a plate of fried mushrooms – a perfectly crisp fried batter and the buttery, earthy umami of mushroom balanced by tart ranch dressing.  I don’t even feel guilty.

It soothes me that in diners from North Carolina to New York, I will find the same heavy china, the same waitress with tired eyes but good-natured sass, the same brown plastic dish filled with bite-sized packets of jam.  It’s good to know that wherever I am, if I am there at five AM, there will be cheese grits and sausage patties to sustain me until I manage to make it to my bed.  But then again, I could simply lay my head on a fried egg, and that pillow would do just fine.

Mountains in New Orleans (a post by Josh)

by lyzpfister

While re-reading some of the archived entries, I remembered that Lyz had written about beignets a while back. Her first post, in fact. If I may quote, “Almost every culture has the compulsion to throw a wad of dough into a hot pile of oil, fry it, cover or fill it with something delicious, and eat it.” I would subscribe to this statement; I mean with all the thoughts of physical health aside, doughnuts are delicious. Especially hot. You know every time you pass a Krispy Kreme Doughnut factory and that “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign is on, you think about stopping. You may not stop, but you think about it real quick-like. Who doesn’t?

Who doesn’t want to gorge on soft, warm, sugary bread that collapses upon fist bite. And if you coat it in a glaze or powdered sugar? You can’t stop yourself. If you are reading this and saying to yourself “No, of course not, I don’t like sweets all that much,” you’re lying to yourself. I know it, I just know it.

But this is much more than Krispy Kremes. This is ever more than the beignets that Lyz and her friends made in that dorm-room kitchen (sorry blog partner). What I’m talking about are the real beignets. The ones that Lyz talked about in her post too: “Beignets, however, evolved outside of France, most notably in New Orleans, where the pastry was brought to the area in the 18th Century, most likely by the Ursuline Nuns.”
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Egg-in-Toast Grows Up (a post by Lyz)

by lyzpfister

Breakfast has never been a big ritual in my family. Cereal and milk, Pop Tarts, granola, leftovers from dinner the night before – anything went as long as it was fast and could be gobbled up before the bus drove by. Besides Christmas morning, the only time that breakfast was anything special was when my grandparents came to visit. Oatmeal is forever associated with my grandpa, though I know now that the creamy butter and brown sugar confection he served me was far from the ascetic, heart-healthy version he ate. When my grandma came, she’d almost always buy a pack of bacon and I’d eat far more than any child should eat in one sitting. But my favorite grandma specialty was one that goes by different names for different people, but which we always quite unassumingly called egg-in-toast.

Egg-in-toast is simple. It’s a piece of buttered bread with a hole ripped out of the center that gets browned in a skillet and serves as a holding pen for an over-easy egg cracked right in the middle. So simple, but so good.

I remember egg-in-toast being a given on weekends, when there was also time for bacon and sometimes oatmeal as well, but there’d be at least one school night where my grandma would say, “Don’t forget to wake up early tomorrow so I have time to make you an egg-in-toast.” And though I hated waking up early, egg-in-toast was always a good reason to get up.

Today, through a series of budding coincidences – some leftover freshly-made, organic bread, one lone egg in the carton dying to be eaten, cilantro on the brink of ruin – I realized I had everything I needed to make my own egg-in-toast for breakfast.

It felt strange to stand at the stove, ripping holes out of bread and cracking eggs into a hot skillet, because I’d only ever watched it happen. For some reason, as I got older, my grandma stopped making me egg-in-toast, though had I asked, I’m sure she would have gladly cooked it. Like other things – being sung to sleep, walked to the bus stop, waited up for in the evenings – I don’t know when they stopped, but their ceasing seemed natural. Standing at the stove reminded me that I hadn’t had an egg-in-toast in years, probably not since I couldn’t see over the top of a burner. All at the same time, I was my grandmother, my child self, my present self, and still in front of me the same egg-in-toast.

Although my egg-in-toast was an aesthetically different bird from my grandmother’s – a bit more “grown up” with organic wheat bread and cilantro, its principle components were there, as were the memories in each bite. And memories like that taste good.

Egg-in-Toast:
(serves one)
1 slice bread
Butter
1 egg
Cilantro (roughly chopped)
Freshly ground pepper
Salt

Butter one slice of bread on both sides, then cut a circle out of the middle. Place bread in skillet over medium-high heat and crack egg into the hole. When the egg is solidified on the bottom and the white is cooked most of the way through, flip the whole bread-egg unit to the other side and cook just until the whites are solid. The egg yolk should be runny on the inside and the whites sealed to the bread on the outside. Remove from skillet. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro, salt, and freshly ground black pepper.

Provincial Mornings (a post by Josh)

by lyzpfister


IMG_3774.JPG

I found my new recipe for French Toast. I found it after a long night, some mindless egg beating and an emotional conversation, but I think this time, the ends justify my means.

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