Breakfast has always been tied with two other meals for being my favorite meal of the day. We grow up hearing that it is the most important meal, but I am not sure of that. I certainly enjoy a good breakfast, and that is all the justification I need for eating each morning. I truly love to eat, and that includes breakfast. Something about the beginning of the day simply makes that meal special.
From a young age, I would eat three bowls of cereal to begin my day. My mother would not likely have countenanced this. I managed it by waking up early to join my father for breakfast before my mother was up. He would pour me a bowl of whatever he was having. I would then get dressed and return when my mom had made her way to the kitchen. She usually let me have two bowls of cereal. This started at age five.
By age nine, I had started swimming competitively. My appetite only increased. I could no longer get up with my father because we had moved. He now had to get up much earlier, and he ate at work. Since my mother had taken a job, she had much to do in order to get ready for her own day, so I could usually sneak a third bowl. I would try to have toast and jam, too, if I could get away with it.
We went to Disney World that year and stayed at the Contemporary Hotel. They had a breakfast buffet. When my mother explained that my brother and I could take as much as we wanted, we were incredulous. We were there for about two hours the first day. People stared. My parents looked sheepishly at the other diners as if to try to dispel suspicions that they never fed us at home.
By high school, I had begun again to double up on breakfast. First, the usual three bowls at home, then my mom would drop me off at my friend’s house the next town over, since I went to a private school that did not send a bus to where I lived. My friend’s parents would insist I join them at their table each morning. I could not resist. And I was glad I did not. That morning ritual drew me closer to these people, who are still my friends to this day.
Swimming kept me thin, I guess. And the metabolism of a teenager. My father took me out to breakfast one summer morning after a Saturday swim practice. More stares. Two eggs over easy, bacon, sausage, home fries, toast. And, uh, two–no, no! Make that three–pancakes. And a glass of orange juice. Large. Glass of milk, too, thanks. No coffee until after my milk shake–chocolate, please. After the pancakes.
I continued to swim even after college. Then, some years later, a relocation took me too far away from a pool to do my daily workout. My routines changed. Then I turned 30 and had to make serious adjustments. Today, I am pleased to say, I wear essentially the same size clothes as I did when I swam 25,000 yards per week.
But I eat no lunch. Instead of a lunch break, I have my only breakfast of the day at around 10:30 in my office. Students have often asked me what I like to have. Almost every day, it is a single pain au chocolat, one cup of caffelatte, and some quiet time with the New York Times crossword puzzle. Often, it is the most pleasant and peaceful half hour of my day. The rest of the day, I’m busy and hungry–but then, that is consistent with most of human history.