Scrapbook #4: In Praise of Breakfast

I’m writing this on a quiet Saturday morning. Everyone is asleep. I peeked out onto Laurier and there was no one walking by, and even the cat was sprawled out and snoring. I wanted to sleep in this morning – preparation for tonight’s Nuit Blanche (Montreal’s city-wide all-night art festival) – but found myself wide awake at 7 am. I read for awhile and then I gave up and went to the kitchen. Last night I’d put a cup of oats into a bowl and covered them in buttermilk for this oatmeal pancake recipe from Orangette. Maybe I woke up because I was excited about pancakes? The batter’s mixed, but I’m letting it sit. I like the way pancake batter gets kind of bubbly when it rests, but I’m also waiting for a more reasonable Saturday morning brunch hour to start making them.

Breakfast at Naz Wooden Inn

So many of my favourite travel memories center around breakfast. This picture was taken in Istanbul. Our hotel was a wooden inn on the edge of the tourist district, next to the railroad tracks. By the end of our stay we’d figured out the best route to take to avoid store owners trying to lure us into their shops with persistent Yes please‘s. We’d eat breakfast on the roof: boiled eggs, dried apricots, simit, a ring-shaped sesame bread. And then we’d venture out into the city, stop for tea, set out for the day.

I used to go out for brunch more often on weekends and I used to have a blog where I posted mini reviews of the places I went to. I still love the ritual of a weekend brunch, of walking to a restaurant in a kind of half-sleepy twilight and getting my coffee poured for me (also, not having to worry about splitting a hollandaise sauce), but spending such a long time in Greece last year broke the brunch habit. It’s not a thing, so if we wanted to have a big North American style breakfast, we would have to make it ourselves. Which we did. Months later, the habit has not only stuck, but flourished. We couldn’t find many brunch staples in Athens, so we made do, but here in Montreal there are so many options, and the pantry is always stocked and the grocery store down the street has more than one kind of bacon, but if we remember to buy it from a butcher it’s even better. You point at the slab of smoked pork, tell them how many slices you want, and they run it through a slicer and then wrap the bacon in waxy brown paper.

A Quebec-centric summer breakfast

I live 5 minutes away from Fairmount bagels. They are better than St. Viateur.

Breakfast

When I say we “made do” in Greece, I don’t mean to imply that we ever suffered. Ripe, runny melon, peaches, oranges. Thick, tangy yogurt. Figs (all mine because Andrew never liked the texture). Frappes made with instant Nescafe, condensed milk and ice cubes. And the eggs were big and brown, the yolks bright orange. We ate a lot of eggs.

South Carolina, leaving a motel and driving to the beach. We’re intent on getting there – it’s so hot out! – but we’re hungry, so we stop at a kind of gas station/general store to see if we can find anything to eat. They have breakfast sandwiches – scrambled eggs and ham on a biscuit. The woman behind the counter puts them together, wraps them in foil. We buy two cans of cold Coke. We eat outside, sitting on a bench, balancing the sandwiches on our knees while we squirt the ketchup on. We can smell the ocean in the air and the ground is sandy. The beach isn’t far.

photo

During the week, I used to never, ever eat breakfast at home. I’d wake up early, go straight to work, and then have a cup of yogurt or a Nature Valley bar at my desk while checking my email. It was kind of soul deflating, especially for a breakfast-loving girl like me, and I’m not sure why I insisted on this routine for years and years. Something about productivity. When I started working again a few months ago, I took a stand: I would eat breakfast at home. So now every morning I eat cereal or oatmeal or toast and I read through one of my cookbooks (Rule #1 about breakfast at home: no Internet allowed while eating), and it’s a much lovelier way to start the day.

P.S. The pancakes were delicious.

10 thoughts on “Scrapbook #4: In Praise of Breakfast

  1. Jaime – thank you!

    Andrew – Especially since you canceled cable.

    Marissa – Love it! I think those plates come from my grandparents’ time too.

    Melanie – Austria does great breakfasts, no? I wanna try some day!

  2. I have the same terrible breakfast at my desk habit and it is kind of a part of myself that I hate. I am trying to break myself of the habit, to slow my mornings down and try to inject a little pleasure into them. Such a hard habit to get out of!

  3. Pingback: (at) eleven with teri vlassopoulos — bats or swallows x « Matilda Magtree

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