Much Ado about Breakfast

by Ari LeVaux

Photo by Ari LeVaux.
Photo by Ari LeVaux.

One of the last things my dad ever chewed me out for was adding eggs to a lukewarm pan. He didn’t get worked up about too many things, but he wasn’t going to let me screw up his breakfast. 
And I have to say, there certainly are a lot of fools trying to screw up breakfast. This is partly due to the fact that we tend to be extra picky about the first meal of the day.  And stubborn. There are a number of people who forsake the instant crispy sizzle-puff that when the eggs hit the hot grease in favor of slowly cooked eggs. These people, along with those who like their eggs well-cooked, are straight up lunatics if you ask me. It’s probably the same way with people who are really into steel-cut oats, and consider eaters of rolled oats to be ungovernable savages. 

We differ not only on what to eat for breakfast, but on when to eat it. Since we could chew solid food we’ve all been fed the line that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”  In a literal sense it may be true the first meal of the day is the most important, but this cliche is typically used to tell people that they should wake up and eat a big breakfast first thing in the morning.  

Breakfast skippers like myself beg to differ with this interpretation. I don’t wake up hungry, and feel that the longer I put off breakfast, the more important of a meal it becomes. If I eat breakfast in the morning my belly doesn’t feel too good, because I want to be hungry before I eat. Edward Abbey wrote that hunger is the best sauce, and other than being wrong (mayo is), he’s right: a clamoring belly is like foreplay to a good meal. 

The champions of an early breakfast insist it will give you more energy throughout the day while you consume fewer calories, because you won’t be ravenous all day like a breakfast-skipper. They have their supporting stats, explanations and theories about how your body will enter starvation mode and hang onto every calorie it can. But when you actually start studying the question, the answers don’t support a universal breakfast doctrine. 

Many breakfast skippers can lose weight without losing energy, while feeling good the whole time. There are even bodybuilders, like Martin Berkham, who lift weights WHILE THEY ARE SKIPPING BREAKFAST, at the tail end of a 16-hour fast that began after dessert the night before. 
There is a broad scientific basis for this regimen, including evidence that Human Growth Hormone, one of the most effective steroids on the planet, is naturally released by the human body during fasting. Fasted trainers tend to be lean and muscly. This isn’t the only way to be healthy, and doesn’t even mean they are, but they at least seem happy with their breakfasts, and their bodies. And this schedule appears to increase lifespan in mice.  

Human children however, are clearly not mice. My dad used to make me eggs every morning before school, and three meals a day wasn’t even enough. Alas, we change as we age, and so do the rules of breakfast. More nuance is required when advising the 18-to-118 age group.  And the first rule of breakfast club should be listen to your own gut, which tells me to wait a while. 

You can eat a burger and a beer for breakfast if you want, or pasta with wine. That would be eating lunch or dinner for breakfast, which is fine. Rich food with a sharp beverage is tasty at any time of day. But if you want to eat breakfast for breakfast, and call it breakfast, it needs to be served with coffee.  And if you want me to eat it, breakfast should contain eggs, and stuff. And the reality is, if we have eggs and coffee we have grease.  I’m OK with that. You could say I let there be grease.  

Because breakfast is such a personal thing, here is a greasy breakfast recipe for one. At least I can eat it by myself. I make it with multiple sources of fat, including bacon, olive oil and butter, because I like redundancy in recipes. But if you are really into a certain oil or mix of oils for your eggs, that’s fine. I’m not gonna go screw up your breakfast. My dad taught me better than that. 

Greasy Breakfast with delicata rings and migas

My Greasy Breakfast can incorporate most any seasonal vegetable, including potatoes, Brussels sprouts, broccoli. For today’s version we use thin rounds of delicata squash, including the skin and seeds, which cook in the hot grease alongside the other stuff. In addition, every once in a while breakfast will coincide with a bag of corn chips being finished, and when available I like to use the crumbs at the bottom of the bag, called migas. Today was one of those days.

Serves one

1 strip bacon, cut into lardons
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon butter
2 eggs
1 clove garlic 
1/2 cup migas (broken corn chip fragments from the bottom of the bag)
1/2 delicata squash, cut into half-inch thick rings

Add bacon to a pan and cook on medium to release the grease. Meanwhile, the eggs with a tablespoon of water. Swat the clove of garlic with the end of the flat of the knife, about two inches from the tip, like you’re killing a spider with a flip-flop. Put the battered remains of the clove in the hot grease, where it will persist in a state of half-spice, half-vegetable. Turn the heat to med/low and fill the pan with squash rings, rearranging the pan as necessary to accommodate as many rings as possible. 

Cook like this until the bottoms of the rings are brown, about ten minutes, and flip them. If using migas, scatter them atop the whole business. 

After about five minutes, turn the heat up to high, stirring the pan as neccessary so nothing burns and everything heats up and stays coated by hot grease. Pour in the beaten eggs and twist the pan around until as much egg is in contact with as much hot pan and hot pan contents as possible. With as few strokes as possible, stir/toss/flip the contents until all egg is exposed to heat, but not overcooked. 

Remove from heat and serve with salsa or hot sauce, and mayo. 

And coffee, to make it official.