Compared to much of the rest of the world, most Americans eat a fairly limited variety of breakfast foods. Cold cereal or a bagel on weekdays, and eggs and bacon on the weekends, seem to be typical breakfast menus for most of us — if, that is, we bother to eat breakfast at all.
We recently found ourselves breaking our own breakfast rut by expanding our repertoire to include earthy truffled pecorino cheese, spicy capicola cured meat, and cured tomatoes, all from our friends Jody and Luisa Somers of Dancing Ewe Farm in upstate New York. It was absolutely delicious, and we weren’t hungry again until dinner.
Of course, we kept the coffee on the menu. It’s irreplaceable.
Every autumn, when the beautiful, sweet grapes from the Finger Lakes Region and the North Fork of Long Island reach my farmers market, I am reminded of images of the ancient Romans, dressed comfortably in togas and romantically feeding each other great bunches of the precious fruit. It is said that grapes symbolize wealth, power, and good luck, and while I can’t say that they have ever brought me wealth or power, I can certainly attest to the good fortune I feel whenever I am lucky enough to eat them.
My annual physical is this afternoon. Last year, for the first time in my life, I heard that my LDL cholesterol level was a bit high. It may have been that I had spent the prior week in Vermont eating little more than cheese for every meal. Or it may have been the bacon that found its way onto my plate last summer more often than in the fifty prior summers put together. On my doctor’s advice, I cut back on the cheese and bacon this year by featuring them less often and, as importantly, by eating them more slowly when they did appear on my plate. Learning to savor every delectable bite has helped me slow down my life in general — no small task for a driven New Yorker. So, today when I see my doctor, I’ll thank her for that bit of wisdom and, hopefully, for reducing my cholesterol level through common sense instead of drugs.
We eat a lot eggs in our home. We eat them fried, scrambled, and hardboiled. We eat them atop emmer, next to roasted potatoes, and in pasta and baked goods. But despite the fact that I crack a dozen or so eggs a week, and despite the fact that I am a culinary professional with decades of cooking experience, it is still a rare occasion for me to crack an egg without leaving a piece of shell behind. I long ago learned to laugh at myself while I fish out the shell before cooking the egg. The experience keeps me humble and reminds me that perfection is, at best, elusive.
I am frequently asked what I most like to cook. My reply ― that I do not have a favorite ― often comes as a surprise. I do, however, have a favorite thing to eat: buckwheat pancakes. With their bluish hue dotted with black specks, they are as visually appealing as they are delicious. My favorite recipe comes from Mark Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything,” and my favorite buckwheat flour comes from organic farmer Thor Oechsner, founding partner of New York’s own Farmer Ground Flour. I like to substitute cardamom for the coriander in Mark’s recipe, a nod, perhaps, to my Scandinavian heritage. But however you prepare them, I would love to join you for breakfast!
A few years ago, I found myself in Copenhagen visiting the country from which my great-grandparents emigrated. I had envisioned myself spending a week indulging in decadent Danish pastries, but ― to my surprise ― I never found any. Instead, I discovered a croissant so sublime that I suspect any Parisian baker would have been proud to claim it. I only wish my Gramps had been there to enjoy it with me.