They say breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Funny since I cannot recall mornings spent hovering over a countertop clanking around a bowl of milk sodden Rice Krispies. I do however remember Sunday mornings waking up from a slumber party and trudging down a friend’s stairs, the scent of homemade pancakes or eggs wafting; a real treat. My family does not brunch on weekends. Some of us sleep in and others catch a morning run and devour a yogurt chock full of fruit on the bottom – not too intense a meal for a lactose laden lass like myself. My parents do not believe in brunch.
Bobby Flay does though. He even hosted a French toast throw down with restaurateur Omar Giner of La Isla not too long ago. The topic? Omar’s sinful cereal and almond battered stuffed French toast. Allegedly, folks skip Church just for a bite of his cream cheese and guava imbued creation. I salivate just thinking about freshly diced strawberries finding a home on the same plate as butter soaked bread. And then I flashback to weekend mornings in forgotten middle school kitchens eating perfectly poached eggs and left too long bacon and I crave a leather booth at the local diner because I cannot even begin to imagine how to recreate a brunch masterpiece when I was never raised to prepare it myself.
Well, almost never…
There is the time my dad made eggs, a basic enough meal. While meeting in the kitchen to pour our coffee and plan our day, my dad suggested he cook breakfast. I looked at him with this surly grin. Dad wanted to forego the diner, our little tradition and whip something up. I was admittedly reluctant. The man wasn’t exactly known for his waffle making skills. Truthfully I’d only ever really seen him toast an English muffin come breakfast time. Nevertheless, he made for the pantry and I the stool to watch.
He stood cracking eggs carefully over a broken-in skillet in plaid pajamas. He used a wooden spoon and asked me to cut tomatoes while he rummaged in the fridge, the eggs cooking on a mild flame. I chopped. He scoured, eventually returning to the stove with a small Tupperware containing just made spaghetti sauce. Without explanation, my father began to pour the fresh tomatoes and sauce into the pan. I was dumbfounded. The man had managed to find a way to convert eggs into Italian-American yolks. Unbelievable. They tasted unbelievable. It was absurd that what had started out as a dollop of Extra Virgin Oil could see a metamorphosis into a culinary creation.
When Bobby Flay visited Hoboken, he transformed mascarpone cheese and pumpkin into a Challah Bread concoction of epic proportion, all the while the crowd hooted and high fived him. When my dad tossed some red stuff into a black pot with a handle, he became my hero all over again. It dawned on me while writing this that it doesn’t matter that I do not have a special relationship with brunch the way my friends do and did when we were younger. I have my dad and a special family recipe that only we can find truly rewarding while the neighbors slap some Aunt Jemima on their Pillsbury crescent rolls. I say Mangia!