The fifth installment of our breakfast advice column
Are you in a breakfast conundrum? Do you have deep-seated, unresolved feelings for brunch? Are you at a loss in front of the smorgasbord of life? Because so often breakfast is about feelings, and relationships teeter on the edge of the morning meal table, Extra Crispy editors Kat Kinsman (Bis-kat) and Margaret Eby (Bisc-gret) are here with the fifth installment of Emergency Biscuits, our breakfast advice column, to dole out hopefully not half-baked counsel and recipes for life. Got a question for the Biscuits? Email email@example.com.
A weird, small joy of getting older that I’ve found is suddenly understanding foods that I would avoid at all costs when I was younger. In the past few years, those foods have included gin martinis, Brussels sprouts, whole milk, and tomatoes, which means that occasionally I’ll be talking to a friend and say something like Do you know what’s amazing? Brussels sprouts! And they’ll look at me like I just told them I had discovered shoes.
But it’s true that as you age you settle into yourself more, and you start understanding that the things that once worked for you no longer do, and maybe the things that didn’t before, do. Part of the question here is how to connect the dots between your previous self, and yourself now. It’s natural to remember your previous self, the one who could somehow eat a whole diner meal of homefries and bacon and not need to snooze in the employee lounge around 2 p.m. But probably your life is a little better, at least in some ways, than those grand old bacon days. Maybe you’re a little surer of yourself, a little steadier, a little kinder. Maybe you’re a little more willing to listen to the advice of people who love you, and who can see that bacon hangover coming a mile away. And sure, maybe, for old time’s sake, you’re still going to order that giant Cinnabon. But what you have now that you didn’t have then is self-knowledge.
And that self-knowledge, it has big-time benefits. You know that you care enough about breakfast that you can’t just grab a granola bar and call it a day without deep dissatisfaction. But you also know enough not to ruin yourself by throwing your body against the rocks of cinnamon rolls early in the morning. But my friend, you have options. There is a happy medium here. Return to that poor old bowl of oatmeal—it’s possible that you never gave it a fair shake. Maybe rather than reheating a packet in a microwave, try some overnight oats. Make it on the stovetop, add a splash of cream and date syrup. See if it’s really the oats you hate, or the idea of them. And consider what it is that you really want when you reach for the bacon and eggs or the cinnamon roll. Is it the pleasing heft of a runny egg? The zip of cinnamon? These are things you can recreate in different contexts, with less disastrous effects. Maybe it’s just cinnamon toast with peanut butter. Maybe it’s a rice bowl with a runny egg, hot sauce, and a handful of spinach. Perhaps you’re not a smoothie person, but a bowl of really nice yogurt with fresh fruit and homemade granola will make your heart sing. Look outside the regular boxes of “breakfast,” too. There’s no secret breakfast police that will issue you a summons if, for example, what works best for you in the morning is roast vegetables.
Getting older has a way of making us feel the loss of days gone, because we cannot quite fathom the days ahead. But, my breakfast warrior, no meal is guaranteed. The future is unknowable. If we are lucky, there are many more breakfasts, many more days to try things. But who knows? Savor what you have. Keep learning what makes sense for you. Examine your beliefs to see which ones hold, and which ones you are better off replacing. Embrace what you have taken from your years, and honor the things you have left behind along the way. And try that rice bowl thing, it’s delicious.
Congratulations on getting older! It’s way better than the alternative—and it doesn’t have to come with the side of grim inevitability that you seem to assume. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately in the face of a few key birthdays and familial illnesses. While there are certainly factors outside of our control—genetic diseases, turns of financial fate, speeding trucks—we do have some say in the way we age. Not just in what we eat, but how we consume the rest of life. It’s incredibly easy to fall into a rut, listen to the same handful of albums, watch the same shows, go to the same restaurants, take the nap rather than the chance, and then suddenly you’re wondering when life passed you by. It’s just so much work to stay part of the world, and so easy to feel as if it’s too hard to catch up. Might as well stay put and act my age.
Yeah, screw that. You get to decide how you live whatever age you are. Your thirty, or forty, or seventy is not your father’s or his grandfather’s or his. It’s yours, and you can bend it to your pleasure. That’s not to say that you should be jamming down fistfuls of corned beef hash, sticky buns, and breakfast burritos each waking day—no one should. Just that you don’t have to sentence yourself to an a.m. gulag, paying penance to yourself and the universe through blandness for the act of aging. Naw, man. What did you eat last night? Was it good? Are there leftovers? Have them. Oatmeal has all manner of health benefits going for it—why not give it all of the seasonings you love on pasta, polenta, or rice? People the world over eat all manner of delicious things like congee, smoked fish, kimchi, pickles, and noodles for breakfast. Trot the globe in search of breakfast delight.
Life is both excruciatingly long and punishingly short. Why relegate any of it to blandness? You get no brownie points or bonus rounds for playing it dull and denying yourself joy. Dance when you’re happy, sleep when you’re tired, tell other people when they have pleased you, and for the sake of all that is holy, eat well and joyfully when you’re hungry. Don’t waste a meal. Don’t waste a breath. Don’t waste a moment. And seriously, try that rice bowl thing. Bisc-gret knows what she’s talking about.