Grits, eggs, bacon and biscuit should be served all at the same time
Published 3:33 am Saturday, April 12, 2003
By By Lloyd Albritton
I love breakfast! It's my favorite meal. Sometimes I even eat breakfast in the evening time. Oddly enough, in these days of great cuisine variety, I do not have such a great interest in trying new delicacies or eating at all, except for one thing: a big breakfast of fried eggs cooked precisely to an "over-medium" standard, crispy fried bacon, grits inundated with butter, and a couple of old-fashioned biscuits. When I frequently fling a craving for breakfast, I cannot deny myself. The smell of coffee brewing and eggs and bacon sizzling on the skillet gives me a warm and fuzzy feeling all over. I love the atmosphere of little greasy spoon restaurants which serve breakfast twenty-four hours a day with waitresses who call me "Sweetie" and clang the dishes and shout breakfast orders to one another, even when they are standing two feet apart.
When I was a young boy in the 4-H Club, my farm project was chickens. I had 100 Rhode Island Red laying hens who kept the family flush in eggs. In those days I ate 10-12 eggs every morning for breakfast with as many of Mama's homemade biscuits as I could shove in. Mama cooked a huge plateful of biscuits for every meal and we ate them like a bunch of hungry puppies. I still have scars on the back of my hands from reaching for my biscuits too slow. I had four brothers, you see, who loved Mama's biscuits as much as I did and were equally quick with their forks.
I learned early in life that such a breakfast as I have described should be demolished in a methodical way, that is, each item on the plate should dwindle at the same rate, so that one always finishes up with a single spoonful of eggs and grits (mixed together, if you please), a little piece of bacon that can be consumed in one bite, and a single precious piece of biscuit for one last sop. Nothing would provoke a riot at our family table like grabbing a brother's last bite of bacon or biscuit off his plate.
Now, in order to effect such a balanced and equitable ending to a good breakfast, it is necessary to have everything on the plate at the same starting time so that one can subconsciously pace the rate of consumption. Many modern restaurants do not understand this. Quite frequently, the waitress brings out my eggs and bacon and says, "Your biscuits will be up in a moment." Or, she brings the eggs and the biscuit and says, "Your bacon will be out in a moment."
We all know that a minute is sixty seconds, but exactly how long is a moment? A moment is a little bit like a country mile. It could be five or ten actual minutes. I have learned this lesson from experience and the "just a moment" trick is unacceptable to me anymore. By the time my biscuit or bacon arrives, either I will have already eaten my eggs or they will be cold and no longer fit to eat. As much as I love eggs, I have never learned to appreciate cold fried eggs, even with a good biscuit.
Another breakfast egg issue which upsets my equilibrium somewhat is that there is not a universal egg-frying standard. For example, when I order my eggs cooked "over-medium," I have a specific standard in mind. Quite frequently my eggs arrive cooked over-easy or well-done. Because of this, when I know I am not in a good mood to forgive inevitable screwups, I like to explain to the waitress exactly what I mean when I say,"over-medium." Experienced waitresses often resent this condescending attitude, roll their eyes, and quip facetiously, "Honey, I think I know what over-medium means."
"Are you sure?" I say. "Because, sweetheart, if you bring my eggs out cooked wrong, I'm going to get upset with you and I'm liable to go ballistic right here in front of everybody."
With that caveat, she will usually reconsider and say, "OK, darling, why don't you go ahead and tell me how you want them eggs cooked."
And I tell her. I carefully explain precisely what over-medium means to me. Then I say, "Sweetie pie, I know that you will not be personally cooking my eggs, so when you pick them up from the cook to bring them out, will you do me a little favor? Will you just check them for me? And if they are not cooked right, don't bring them to me. Just take them right back to the kitchen and explain to that cook precisely what over-medium means to you."
By this time, stomach acids have already begun to eat a hole in my stomach and I know my breakfast is going to go down badly no matter how good it is. So, I figure I might as well go ahead and cover the bacon issue with her.
"Now dearest," I say, "while we are communicating so well, may I just emphasize that I want my bacon to be crispy. Do you know what I mean by crispy?"
She rolls her eyes. "Why don't you tell me sir!"
"Thank you. Well, by crispy, I mean that I do not want my bacon strips to come out half-cooked and lying in a pool of grease. This may be accomplished by frying the bacon just a little longer and then lying it out on a paper napkin to soak up the grease, rather than directly in the plate, then perhaps by patting the top of it a little bit with another napkin."
"I understand," she says. "I will personally pat your bacon free of extra grease before bringing it out. Anything else?"
"Well, I don't want to be a pain," I say as she looks toward the ceiling, "but it is very important to me that you bring all my food out at the same time. If one part of my meal is not ready, just hold the whole thing until everything is ready and bring it all out to me at the same time, all warm and ready to eat."
Then I say, "Right on the other hand, may I just have my check now? I will pay it and leave you a great big tip for putting up with me. Don't even bother bringing out my breakfast because I could not possible eat it now without worrying about somebody spitting in it.