Wednesday, August 16, 2006

In Which We Eat Breakfast: Truly Gripping Material

This is not quite one of those "Day In The Life" posts, but it does cover the best part of a recent morning, and it does probably break many of the rules in Mighty Girl's new book, "No One Cares What You Had For Lunch."

A few things fell fortuitously into place last Friday morning: First, it was Bella's last day of "freedom" before beginning her attendance at the No Pantsuits Preschool. Alex was (and is still, if you happen to be one of our "prayer warriors"--and if you're not, feel free to join in) having significant trouble adjusting to his new meds and unable to make it in to work, what with his concentration span being just about long enough to occasionally finish a sentence. On my part, well, since I tank up in a pretty big way on painkillers, birth control pills, Lomotil, and Xanax just before bed, there are a couple of hours in the early morning that are just about my favorite time to be alive, before the routine badness kicks in for the day. Finally, we needed to go to the feed store for provisions, and also to make the now-infamous trip to the grocery store. We needed food, the horses needed food, and (prepare for embarrassing admission) even the dogs needed food, because, since I've been feeling really bad, I have not been up to preparing their wonderful fresh, raw meals--nor even making a batch or two of Satin Balls--and have been feeding them--*gasp*--Eukanuba Premium.

(ASIDE TO THE POODLES: I'm sorry guys; I promise, once I'm well, you'll be back to your good, healthy diet again. Until then, please just eat your doggie equivalent of Kraft Macaroni & Cheese , Ramen Noodles, Twinkies and McDonald's Happy Meals, and I'll try to toss in the occasional hunk of raw beef and/or chicken and some broccoli. Hang in there; it won't be much longer.)

So it was that we were out early enough on that Friday morning that we had the opportunity to eat breakfast out--an unusual treat for us, especially since restaurants offering breakfast around here are rare as hen's teeth. I had, through my perusings of local newspapers, while trolling for grocery coupons, come upon an advertisement of an establishment of which I'd not previously been aware, though it had apparently been right under our noses, just down the road from the feed store and the meat market, and across the street from the Post Office in Cabot. The only other option for breakfast was Waffle House, which kinda makes me wanna hurl, but is acceptable to Alex, so I phoned "Jane's" restaurant and asked them one question: "Are you guys a better choice for breakfast than Waffle House?" The lady who answered the phone was barely able to stop laughing long enough to choke out an "OH, HEAVENS, YES!" so off we went, to the venerable "Jane's Kitchen."Now, I don't know how city folks choose the best restaurants on short notice, say, if you haven't had time to consult Zagat's or the Michelin Guide, or to ask anyone who's been there, and there's no official "rating" or critic's review hanging in the window. You might think that we'd be satisfied with a hearty on-site endorsement such as this:But no, that alone just won't do it. In the South, in matters of roadside diners, barbecue joints, cafes, burger stands, dairy bars, breakfast places, and any dining establishment using one or more of the words "kitchen", "country," "homemade," "home-cooking," "fresh," or "pie," the true test is this: The Parking-Lot Pickup Count. Witness the pickup percentage in the parking lot at Jane's Kitchen upon our arrival:These are your builders, your contractors, your farmers, your roofers, your manual laborers...hard-working men (and women--you'd better believe it!) who need a good, inexpensive, stick-to-your-ribs breakfast to get them through the morning until lunchtime. And to keep them coming back, the food had better be tasty, and the service had better be sharp. Consistently.

The interior was immediately familiar and comforting. Nothing fancy, but it was clean, and I'd seen it a hundred times before.We'd been seated and had our orders taken within about 4 minutes, and even Antsy-Pantsy Bella was happily sipping her milk and making nonstop conversation with anyone who would listen.Despite never in her life having been to a restaurant for breakfast, she ordered without our assistance or prompting, and knew exactly what she wanted: One pancake, one scrambled egg, and sausage, which I knew she would not eat--and she didn't. It didn't take too long for food to arrive, but it was just long enough a wait that we (and all the other Jane's Kitchen patrons and staff) were treated to a bit of "flatware percussion," totally free of charge.But then, Hooray! Breakfast was there! For the Princess, a pancake the size of her head, which made her VERY happy!And since I was caught photographing HER breakfast, I was made to document ours, as well, which, really, is pretty embarrassing. For Dad, that's a Western omelet, bacon, biscuits and gravy...and a Coke. We're pretty sure that's Jermain Taylor's (Notice the awesome t-shirt? Jealous of it?) pre-fight training breakfast.And Mommy did not do any better, really, with her bacon & cheese omelet, hash browns, wheat toast...and also a Coke. Eeep. But really, how often do I even get to eat breakfast, much less a cooked one, much less one that someone else cooked? Not very darned often, is how often.As we were finishing up, about 20 members of the local high school football team came in, and Alex informed me that they had probably just begun their "two-a-days" and had come by post-practice, and were filling up on serious teenage-boy-with-hollow-leg rations before heading home to sleep until time for the day's afternoon practice. Typical orders--for ONE person--were along these lines: "Biscuits and gravy, double order of bacon, pancakes, and sausage." Do you have any idea what I would give for the metabolism of a teenage boy? DO YOU?!? What impressed me about these young "jocks," however, was not their appetites, but rather their manners, which were impeccable. Although totally unattended by any adult presence, their voices were quiet, their tables stayed neat and clean, and every conversational exchange with restaurant staff was peppered liberally with "yes, ma'ams" and "no, ma'ams", and "thank you, ma'ams". They were freshly showered, fresh-faced, and appeared, to my nearly forty-year-old self, to be approximately 12 years old, each and every one of them.

I promise that the next post will not be about what I had for lunch on Saturday.


  1. Coke for breakfast. That's CRAZY. I can't even believe I just read that.

  2. so um, was it better than Waffle House?


    Every place is better than Waffle House! We go to the local Aweful Waffle just for the entertainment, not for the food. Even the coffee is horrible, but the cook here is a HOOT.

    OK OK I love the hashbrowns scattered smothered and covered, I admit it. But the coffee really does suck.

  3. With all due respect to Mighty Girl, I thought this was an interesting post! I LOVE going out for breakfast, rare as it is, since Chris and I take turns sleeping in on weekends. But omelettes and hashbrowns and toast-yummmy!

    Maybe it's just a Southern thing, but the parents of those football players should be proud of their sons behavior and manners.

  4. Your daughter is downright adorable.

    I just thought I would mention it in case you were unawares. :-)

  5. It always feels so decadent and wonderful to have someone else cook breakfast for you, doesn't it? Bella is adorable - what a ham she is for the camera! Hugs from up here may you both feel better soon.

  6. All I can say is "urp!"

    That's some breakfast. I've never seen bisquits and gravy. Is the gravy always that color? It's kinda scary.

  7. It reminds me of a diner which is a NY/NJ thing.

    I've been known to have diet coke for breakfast...don't feel bad.

  8. leslie, I know...we're all quitting soon, so we're sowing our cola oats.

    margalit--first, it's "biscuit". Just like the British spell it when they're talking about a cookie. ;-) And that gravy is a milk-based gravy. "White" gravy always is made up of mostly milk and flour and a little bit of grease. "Brown" gravy is a lot more grease, and the flour is more scorched...there could still be a little milk in it, though. Gravy is a complicated, and highly personal matter! When you get "biscuits and gravy" in a restaurant, what you almost always get is split biscuits covered in white sausage gravy, with bits of sausage in it. Not a fave of mine, but HUGELY popular.

    Erin, thanks. Isn't it a sad state of affairs when simply having breakfast--an actual MEAL of it--seems such a luxury? that you mention it...;-P

    Elizabeth, those kids impressed the heck out of me. I did not hear ONE curse word the entire time they were there, and our table was right next to theirs. They were happy and friendly, but very polite southern gentlemen. Their parents should be proud.

    Erin, when we first got married, Alex went out one Saturday morning and got waffles from WH. I cannot express my lack of enthusiasm with the product. At all.

    Cece--it is NOT crazy. Just extremely unhealthy.

  9. No COFFEE?????

    Oh the horror, the HORROR!

  10. Even Mighty Girl would be laughing at this post! So damn funny. And Bella is, as always, a total hoot.

    I've only eaten at the three local Waffle Houses, but I LOVE them (as you saw on Chronic Listaholic). But then I also love breakfast from Jack In The Box.

    I know I've told you this before, Belinda, but I really, REALLY love your writing.

  11. The biscuits and gravy look delicious. I almost never get to eat out for breakfast, but when I do Cracker Barrel. I love their biscuits and gravy.

  12. Well, it may break the rules of posting (which I obviously care nothing about, since I post a whole boring DAY once a month) but I always enjoy your narratives. Besides you've gotta give props to the most important meal of the day.

  13. Ok I am ready to head south again. THe only thing I could add to that breakfast is grits and sweet tea. Yum!

  14. CL--Alex actually HAD coffee after the meal. Could someone please remind him about the importance of bipolars who tend toward mania/hypomani AVOIDING caffeine?

    SJ--You are one of the people in the world who makes my day on a regular basis. Choosing a "what we had for breakfast post" to say you like my writing would be one of the reasons for that! And after looking at that Waffle House hash-brown menu, I may have to give it another chance. But what turned me totally off was their use of AMERICAN cheese in omelettes. WHAT THE--? That's not even CHEESE!

    Kim--we used to dread road trips with my dad, because he would stop. at. every. Cracker. Barrell. he. saw. There's such a thing as too much of a good thing! But then he would always buy us candy in the lobby.

    Sheryl--I've tried "A Day In The Life" before, but I just got too darned tired before I got finished. So I went for "A Morning in the life," in your honor! If it helps, by the time we were finished, I collapsed with exhaustion and was useless, so my day was essentially over. ;-)

    Jules, next time, I will so make you cheese grits and mint sun-tea, girl.

  15. I drink Coke for breakfast when I'm out. Hey, if you're not doing it daily, it won't kill ya.

    Those hashbrowns look soooo good. I like it when they really fry the crap out of them so they crunch.

  16. Well....

    Here it is 6:46 in the morning, and I sit here eating a half of a leftover subway sandwich...which has both mustard and pepperjack cheese on it (of which I despise both, as it wasn't originally my sandwich).


    A coke.

    Your breakfast was far more normal. :)