Our Breakfast, Ourselves
Some people practice yoga to calm themselves. Others use physical activity. I practice breakfast.
Breakfast is a sacred time. It is a ritual where I can shut down my brain and focus on the present moment. It allows me to mentally prepare for the oncoming day, regardless of what I have planned. If I don’t practice my breakfast ritual, the entire day is thrown off. I also have to eat it alone. My husband has learned that in the morning, I am not to be disturbed. This sounds cruel. But he doesn’t eat breakfast. He is not a follower like me.
My parents had similar breakfast mentalities. While our family always ate dinner together, breakfast was a solo activity. My dad was first in the kitchen due to his 40-minute commute. He woke up, walked the dog, and then came home to make his Raisin Bran. I imagine him in the kitchen; the only sounds the rattling of his spoon and the rustle of the newspaper. To this day, he still eats the same breakfast. Raisin Bran. The meal reflects exactly who my father is. Simple, no fuss, and straight to the point.
I developed my coffee habit from mom. Dad doesn’t drink coffee. But mom was and still is a coffee fanatic. She also has a strict routine. She buys local whole beans. She grinds them fresh. Adds milk, but no sugar. No one spoke to mom before her coffee. I used to think it was ridiculous. I swore I didn’t need coffee. But I loved the smell. I loved to open the canisters and smell each of the flavors at the store. And then one day, at 23 years old, my brain told me I wanted it. Out of nowhere, I craved the taste of what I had built up in my mind as unnecessary. Ten years later, my mom got me a burr grinder for Christmas. I am now buying local beans. No one talks to me before coffee. Thanks, mom.
But dad gave me eggs. The very first thing I learned to cook on my own was scrambled eggs. Even though my mother was the resident cook in our household, it was dad who taught me. And if he could cook it, anyone could. I now know how to cook every variation. Omelets, fried, broiled, or poached. The egg is king. With few exceptions, any food has the ability to pair with an egg, which means that anything can become a breakfast food. My Eating Disorder tried to take away eggs from me. I went years without real eggs, substituting them with egg whites only. When I started recovery, it was one of the first foods I took back. Now I eat eggs with reckless abandon.
Perhaps the whole obsession began with Cracker Barrel. In my childhood, when my family would take its yearly trip to North Carolina, we would always stop there. It marked the halfway point of the 8-hour drive. And no matter what time we would have our meal, I knew that I always had the power to order pancakes. I don’t remember if I got them every time. But the idea that I had the choice to eat breakfast at any hour was magical. I didn’t eat breakfast back then. I was on ADD medication that suppressed my hunger. So breakfast for dinner felt like an acceptable form of rebellion, a high I had never experienced. That high stayed with me. Except now, I have dinner food for breakfast. Just add an egg.
Building up a meal to this proportion sounds silly. But I am a woman with complicated food history. It took me a long time to get to where I am today. And I will not apologize for something that brings me joy. Breakfast is my armor and my fuel. The thing I look forward to every morning—a time for me and me alone. Everyone deserves a moment that they can dedicate to only themselves. And the first meal of the day is mine.
But don’t get me started on Brunch. That’s an entirely different story.
Featured Image by Adele Z.