Growing up, I only ate cereal for breakfast. My family didn’t cook much and didn’t cook well. When we ate out, often times we ate at IHOP because we all liked breakfast. Hot breakfast was something special for me at home because of the rarity, but for my kids, they have grown up in a life of privilege.
The only time my family had hot breakfast was on Saturday mornings. Unlike during the week, my parents weren’t so stressed about cooking, and they hadn’t just worked the whole day before having to cook. I remember the pound of bacon, cooked to a crisp. The eggs were sunny-side up, and they were seasoned after being cooked. There was toast with butter and pancakes or French toast. Orange juice, too; we never had orange juice in the morning on the regular.
We would sit down all together, and we would eat a nice meal.
Don’t get me wrong; I loved cereal. We loved all kinds of cereals growing up: Lucky Charms, Fruit Loops, Frosted Flakes, Fruity Pebbles, Coco Pebbles, Cheerios, Captain Crunch, etc. I would try new cereals for the hell of it. The sugar probably wasn’t good for me, so when I cut out sugar, most cereals had to go.
Some cereals were special. Whenever we visited my grandparents in Michigan, my mother would buy Captain Crunch with Crunch Berries. We wouldn’t get that back home, and it seemed special. For some reason, I believed this cereal was my grandpa’s favorite; he just loved those crunch berries! Then after he died when I was 8, I figured we kept eating them as a tribute to him. My mom told me as an adult that she bought them so we had a special treat.
When I met my wife, I never thought I would cook much. Little by slow, I fell in love with cooking, and I began to enjoy the delayed gratification of the more complex meals or even preparing tomato sauce or meat to store and use throughout the year. Still though, I ate cereal for breakfast.
Then we had kids. For some reason, I started feeding our first son eggs for breakfast. Probably because they were easy to cook, healthy, and he would eat them. He and I would eat breakfast together every morning while Mamma was in the shower. It was really a sweet time with him and I. I was still eating cereal, and it dawned on me, why aren’t I cooking myself a hot meal?
I started with an English muffin, an egg over easy, romano cheese, and anchovies. The love of fish didn’t happen overnight, but they were delicious and a good source for salt (I need more salt than others). Slowly, it dawned on me how passionate I was about anchovies.
As my son grew older and we had more kids, I started making more complex breakfasts. Pancakes, waffles, and bacon became the norm. I started making breakfast for my wife as well.
These hot breakfasts have grown to something I never thought would be normal. We’ve done the Whole 30, and for breakfast, I’ll make fresh hash browns, bacon or sausage, and eggs topped with avocado. Simultaneously, I’ll make French toast or pancakes for the kids. (I should point out that the sausage is made from pork butt we trimmed and ground.) It’s another level of food preparation.
My kids haven’t realized hot breakfast is unusual especially for someone else to make it for you. Hopefully, one day they will pass it on to their kids. Homemade pasta, sauce, olives, meat, cured meat, artichokes, espresso, and home cooking in general are their norm.
Reflecting back to my childhood, having milk rather than powdered milk was an upgrade we rarely appreciated. The same was true with ice cream, meat, and food in general; we certainly had leveled up compared to our parents.