Friday, August 18, 2023
There are signs all over the French Quarter that say Breakfast all day. This is my kind of sign.
If there is one meal you can eat any time of the day it’s breakfast. Think about it. Who goes out for a filet mignon at 9AM? I know people who eat cold leftover pizza for breakfast but they are mostly in college. And I may make a cold turkey and cheese on wheat for dinner but that is only when I am being incredibly lazy or it’s one day before I’m leaving on a trip and there is literally nothing left in the refrigerator.
Different food groups belong to different times of the day. But breakfast is the universal constant.
Is there really a wrong time of the day for bacon?
Eggs alone can be cooked so many ways that you could eat them differently every day of the week and never repeat a dish. Eggs are really nature’s gift to humanity, and yet so many people brutalize them in inconceivable ways. Scrambled eggs that are more like an omelet with nothing inside, nary a sprinkle of cheese or a speckle of black pepper.
Poached eggs that are soft boiled. Hard boiled that are soft.
Ralph and I had a colleague who we occasionally went to breakfast with who would not eat eggs if they had the least bit of brown on them. He would ask for an omelet with no browning, just lightly cooked, even slightly undercooked. He would get very specific about it and warn the wait staff that if the omelet came out with any brown spots he would send it back immediately.
They all nodded dutifully but inevitably the omelets were sent back. It was an affair, but I can sympathize. If you ask for a yellow omelet you should be able to get a yellow omelet.
How hard is it to cook an egg?
I have it from personal experience that the answer is somewhere between “very” and “nearly impossible.”
Here’s a tip: Egg. Butter. Pan. Take it off before it burns.
Here’s another tip: eggs Benedict is a thing.
You should not ask me how I want my eggs cooked when I order eggs Benedict. Scrambled eggs on an English muffin is not eggs Benedict, I don’t care how much Hollandaise you put on it.
I can’t tell you how often I have asked for eggs Benedict and gotten hard boiled eggs. I have never sent one back, but if asked, I will certainly share my opinion. I think the bar is so low when it comes to eggs that anything marginally yellow will do.
People put so much effort into dinner with their little edible flowers and pipettes of strawberry roux. But breakfast, half the time you’re lucky if you can get eggs that haven’t been turned into a brown paper bag.
If a place can’t get breakfast right I have no use for it any other time of day.
Also wrong: a place that ONLY does breakfast and lunch and they STILL can’t get it right.
But I digress.
Ralph and I went to a place called Café Fleur De Lis because we may have had one too many beignets and needed something else. I chose this particular café because it looked cute and the reviews were good. We proceeded with caution.
The place was tiny. And hot. The kitchen was open and about ten feet from us, so that made it even hotter. The menu was printed on a single piece of laminated paper, which was a good thing, because bugs can’t get into a single piece of paper the way they can with a folded menu.
Trust me, this is a thing you learn after a few days in New Orleans.
I considered trying the eggs Benedict but on a first date you don’t ask the really hard questions. You kind of give them a pass and hope the omelets don’t come out brown.
I ordered a Southern Breakfast which right there should tell you it was about ten thousand calories and the size of a train car.
But was it good?
Pancakes. Biscuits and gravy. Eggs. Bacon.
Extra crispy bacon.
That’s another thing. Is there a Raw Bacon Movement that I don’t know about? Why do so many places cook eggs into solid rubber tires and undercook bacon so it’s like one of those sticky hands you used to play with as a kid that you fwap onto a wall and it sticks there until eventually peeling off and slapping you in the face?
Everywhere I go I ask for bacon, extra crispy. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I do, in fact, ask them to take it back and actually cook it. I cannot abide by flabby soggy flappy bacon.
If I have been someplace for breakfast and have failed to achieve extra crispy bacon on the first try, I will resort to telling them I’m ok with burnt bacon, as long as it is crispy. Failing that, I will not return.
The meal I got at Fleur De Lis was delicious. Juicy eggs. Crispy bacon. Lovely browned pancakes and smooth gravy on fat biscuits.
My only regret was that I only got a short stack of pancakes. If I could have moved out of the chair without assistance of a wheelbarrow, I would have ordered more.
It was breakfast the way breakfast should be.
As far as I’m concerned, it was a meal worthy of any time of day, only called breakfast by an accident of language. A plate of buttery vanilla pancakes is just as perfect at 8pm as it is at 8am. Eggs can do and be anything, whether you’re scrambling them up and tossing them in a pile next to a biscuit, or laying them on top of your burger or simmering them in your pasta sauce.
And bacon… well, you can put that in anything, including dessert and cocktails.
I sometimes have a little ethical twinge about eating animals and wonder, in a hundred years, will humanity look back on how we used to kill and eat other sentient beings and be horrified? When all of our meat is grown in labs and there are no more cow pens, will our current food practices seem abominable?
I consider, for a moment, living a life of plants and beans, pasta and legumes. It would be doable. I’d get used to it.
Then I remember bacon.
Photo: our delicious and giant breakfast, exactly how it should be.