Breakfast: The rut that isn’t.

Though I make a concerted effort to try new and different foods all the time, I’ll always fall into a breakfast rut. I’ll have something over and over for months on end, to the point that that food is so inextricably linked with that period of time. A double-tall latte and a bagel with two madelines drops me back driving carpool in high school. A misguided health phase in college meant a wheatberry English muffin topped with two floppy eggwhites and faux-sausage. Like an album you listen to over and over in one period of time, that you can’t shake the association.

And like that music seems to soundtrack that time period just right, for me that breakfast seems to go along just right with what was happening at the time. And it makes sense. Clearly, I believe food is more than just substance. That what’s on your plate says something about where you come from, what you hold dear, and what does or doesn’t matter to you. Driving those kids to school I was looking for something to offset my 1st cigarette buzz and the associate stomachache. That breakfast sandwich I wouldn’t go anywhere near now was well under 200 calories, which apparently was important to me at the time.

Right now, I’m in a different breakfast place. French-pressed coffee from Ritual, Four Barrel or Blue Bottle, zucchini bread I make every weekend, plus a daily attempt at the perfect omelette.

I like the new ritual of baking the week’s bread and deciding who gets the second loaf. I’m comforted by the 1 minute/3 minute rhythm of making coffee, seeing how much else I can get done around the kitchen in those intervals, and stirring the eggs in the pan until curds form, trying to find that perfect balance of hovering over the pan and just letting it be. I like looking out over my mini-side yard to see the animals run around, then unexpectedly getting a head-butt to the calf from a cat looking for any scraps. He never gets any, but that doesn’t diminish his resolve.

When it’s all done, I sit down and either catch up on yesterday’s Colbert or what piled up on the RSS feeder overnight. I make sure to make enough time for it all, even if it means getting up at ridiculous-o’clock to make it to the gym and have time enough for all this.

Yesterday I was trying to remember the breakfast ruts that came before and the spaces they came with: toast with sunny-side up eggs or bread with butter and jam at 90 Parker. Walnut rolls at my desk in the Pearl District. But I couldn’t remember when I had fallen into the habit of making time for breakfast, of setting aside some time to ease into the day.

I knew it was in Portland, and I knew Stumptown coffee was involved, and I knew that we used to trade urls like sections of a newspaper while some new band discovered on Pitchfork streamed wirelessly from the speakers. And just remembering these details brought back that time. It’s the same details that keep a sense of nostalgia always within arms length. The most-played tracks on my music library, my missing roasting pan, my first bike, spice jars.

But I had forgot about the rosemary bagels. Ideally with homemade butter or at least the good butter from the local dairy. And I forgot the name of the dairy, too. Not Strauss, that's here. I think it had two syllables. And I could look it up in an instant, I could have that name back at my disposal, but what's the point? Why reconstitute a memory and bolster that nostalgia?

I'm glad the details are getting lost. These threads of memory are quietly snapping one by one and one day, before I know it, they'll all have decayed through and broken, and then tension, the sinuous tug of longing won't be there so strongly. I think that soon enough I’ll fall into a new breakfast routine and before long, I’ll look back at a two-egg omelette, two generous slices of zucchini bread and a French-pressed cup of coffee and have an association I don’t have the benefit of knowing right now.

No comments: