A toast to the women who raised us
This Sunday, across the land, moms will be publicly feted at mimosa-spiked Mother's Day brunches, and pampered at home with a lovingly assembled breakfast-in-bed in celebration of the kind care and excellent example they provide the other 364 days of the year. But the role of "mom" is far from one-size-fits all, so our Extra Crispy staff is taking the opportunity to extol the virtues of the particular women who brought us up to be the breakfast fanatics we are. Happy Mother's Day, moms, we love you. (And we promise we'll do the dishes after this.)
Maxine Builder, Associate Editor: My dad’s the one who taught me how to fry up bacon and eggs, but my mom is the one who taught me how breakfast can make anyone feel at home. She makes the first pot of coffee in the morning, before anyone else in the house is up. She’s the one who lays out a full brunch spread, featuring freshly-cut fruit and our favorite poppy seed roll from the bakery down the street, any time the whole family’s in town. She always hands me a granola bar or a piece of fruit on my way out the door, even if I insist I don’t want breakfast or don’t have the time. My mother is a true morning person, who is able to take care of me and my family even as we’re grumpily rubbing the sand out of our eyes, and her kindness is probably the best breakfast of all.
Kate Welsh, Associate Editor: My mom is a force to be reckoned with—a force of giant hugs, of fierce pep talks, of spontaneous adventures, of cool scarves. But one other force that I and everyone who knows and loves my mom has benefited from is her force in the kitchen. She is a casually excellent cook. You’ll come downstairs to ask what smells great to find out that Mom has decided to make chicken molé, just because it sounded good. (And it was; she made this months ago and I still think about it.) She’s fearless—she makes her own spinach lasagna noodles and knows her way around Makrut lime leaves and doesn’t shy away from complicated pastry—and doesn’t make a fuss about any of it.
And what’s better than all that is that she loves nothing more than sharing what she’s made with other people. She’ll have what feels like the whole neighborhood over for Christmas Eve crepes and bratwurst, or whip up two different soups for people who are sick, or make sure I know that she and my dad are making bread today, and that I better tell my two best friends from high school so they can come by and get a slice. I feel awfully lucky to have her on my (and my belly’s) side.
Rebecca Firkser, Culinary Editor: My mother’s commitment to making dinner every night after work is the reason I know how to cook, so I like to make food for her whenever I can. Mother’s Day brunch seems like it’d be a perfect time for this, but there’s no beating my mother to breakfast. By 8 a.m., she’s already had first breakfast and is likely getting ready to eat yogurt and granola or run out for bagels. Try as I may to make her a breakfast in bed or set up a pile of waffles on the kitchen table, after 15-plus years of unsuccessfully beating her to the kitchen on Mother’s Day, I now know better.
Around 4 p.m. I’ll pour an Aperol spritz for my mother, set her and my dad up with some cheese and crackers, and send them out to the backyard. I’ll then make anything she’s requested for dinner (if my sister is around, I might have help), and then the whole family will eat together, drinking the bottle of rosé that I’ve bought my mom as an official gift ever since I was old enough to buy liquor. This is turning out to sound like we drink a lot of pink things, which I guess hadn’t occurred to me until just this moment.
Ryan Grim, Editor: Mom’s a morning person. She gets up at 6 a.m. and does a hundred things. When everyone else comes downstairs at 10 she’s all like, “C’mon, you loads! Get with the program, you loads!” What the “program” is, no one’s really sure. Maybe the program is doing lots of activities early in the morning so you build up enough inertia to carry yourself through the day. I can imagine her launching a self-help DVD series called The Program (tagline: Get with it, loads!) that preaches being very active from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. And how doing that every day will lead to happiness. I see The Program as one of her many hastily assembled and not-so-successful businesses, but whatever, you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take, right?
The Program would tell you to begin each day by running outside for a mile with a pitbull. Then you shower and get dressed. Then you make a gigantic egg-white scramble with red peppers and Skinny Cow cheese. Then you text your sleeping kids to come downstairs and eat the scramble. Then, from 7:30 to 10 a.m., you do 89 random things around the house, like feeding dogs and throwing away old picture frames that still have photos of an iStock family in them. Then, when your kids finally come downstairs, you say, “C’mon, you loads! Eat this scramble. It has healthy cheese. What have you been doing all morning? Get with the program!” Mom, if you’re reading this, no, I can’t help you produce The Program DVDs but I’m happy to put you in touch with people who can. Love you!
Kat Kinsman, Senior Food and Drinks Editor: I honestly cannot recall having breakfast with my mother. She worked on weekends running the CCD program at our parish, so once my sister and I were able to pour cereal and make toast without burning ourselves, she stayed in bed while we went about our morning rush. This, to me, is perhaps a greater gift than that of a perfect pancake recipe or a signature muffin: the knowledge that independence and self-care were skills I've relied on down the line. When I got to college, I was never flummoxed about how to feed myself like some of my friends were. I could (and can) always make a meal out of everything. The self-care and rest thing? Still a work in progress. But I'm trying, Mumsie. Thanks for the lesson.
Lauren Kolm, Designer: Living across the country from my mom has made it more than a little difficult to partake in the culinary traditions widely considered standard Mother’s Day practice. I’ll always call my mom or, if I’m feeling particularly showy, send a box of brownies her way, but in light of our distance, I’ve shifted my Mother’s Day focus towards a geographically-closer maternal figure: my mom’s mom. I’ve spent every Mother’s Day on this coast with my grandma and, more often than not, this entails a trip to her favorite fine dining establishment: the Great Neck Diner.
I love the predictability of this ritual. We’ll be shown to our booth by the head waiter and will both proceed to order the same thing every time without fail: an omelet for me and chicken salad on a bagel (plain, un-toasted, with the insides scooped) for her. Breakfast at the Great Neck Diner is really a three-pronged gift: my grandma gets to eat at her favorite spot with her favorite (read: only) granddaughter, I get a free omelet because no matter how many times I insist she will never let me pay the bill, and my mom, who herself feels the difficulty in living across the country from her mother, gets the assurance that her mom is being sufficiently appreciated on Mother’s Day.
Meghan Cetera, Audience Development Editor: My mom is the only person who cares what I eat for breakfast, or any meal for that matter. Sure, my friends might like my brunch photos on Instagram, but I guarantee they don't actually care what I'm eating or if I am eating enough, but my mom does. Mothers from the Midwest will always make sure you are eating enough. I know because every time I talk to her she asks what I'm making for breakfast, lunch or, dinner—it depends what time of day it is—and comments on whether or not that is an acceptable meal. Point is, she cares about my happiness and survival probably more than anyone else on the planet.
Just last week, I was home in Chicago for my sister's bridal shower. My mom threw a party for 50 people that lasted until 1 a.m. (my family likes to have a good time if you couldn't tell). The next day, in true supermom fashion, she was up before 8 a.m. making hangover breakfast for my sister and me. We are fully grown adults who should be able to feed ourselves, but when we are hungover we are basically children who need our mom to take care of us. And she pulled out all the stops. We're talking scrambled eggs, crispy hash browns, sausage, and biscuits. Biscuits I tell you! At 8 a.m.! If that isn't love, I'm not sure what is.
Gabrielle Van Tassel, Editorial Intern: Eccentricity is normalcy in my family, and my mother reigns supreme. It’s one of the many reasons why I love her so dearly, and also why we frequently lock horns. She has been a working single mom for my entire life, and she is one of the strongest people I know. Even when she makes me mad, which, like I said, happens more often than we both might want, I am endlessly grateful for her silliness, tenacity, softness of heart, and her adeptness in the kitchen. That woman can cook.
Having grown up on a farm where life was spent being perpetually late and perpetually in the barn, meal schedules weren't really a thing. In fact doing anything by the book was never really a thing—especially when that book contained recipes. But cooking is what brought my mother and me back together even after what seemed like irreparable damage, and nothing is a better bandaid than sharing a cold beer over the smell of something good. I am transported home by the smell of fried farm-fresh tomatoes sizzling alongside thick slices of scrapple wafting up the stairs.