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Mar '09

The Delightful Limitations of the Classic Diner Breakfast

The Delightful Limitations of the Classic Diner Breakfast

Book Excerpts and Food Articles by Doug DuCapWe’re not, let it be noted, what you would call Morning People here at HuggingtheCoast.Com headquarters.

Some folks wake with the sun, full of energy and fully ready to carpe their diem. We’re more the Go to Sleep at Dawn and Wake at the Crack of Noon sort.

But there is one fool-proof incentive that will revive us no matter how weary or bleary we may be:


Classic Diner Breakfast

Perhaps it has something to do with having been born in the land of the 24 hour diner, where the ‘breakfast at any hour’ concept was invented. Whether it was a Taylor ham & egg on a hard roll and the morning paper on the way to work, or a 3 AM post-party refueling, breakfast was the perfect anytime meal, not because of its expansiveness but rather because of its limitations.

When folks eat out at dinnertime, they’re more inclined to linger over choices. In the morning, conversely, most people don’t want to have to think too much.

Ahhh! Diner Coffee!Fortunately, an American diner breakfast consists of a few easily understood concepts and doesn’t stray very far beyond its iconic elements: Eggs, with or without stuff in them; salty pork products; certain forms of potato (or, regionally, some other starch like grits); some toasty baked goods; perhaps some griddle-cooked, batter-based ‘a la minute’ preparations like pancakes or waffles. All washed down with a warm liquid stimulant like coffee or tea.

Simple, harmonious, and as we see below, pretty strictly defined:

Stuff People Order For Breakfast Vs. Stuff They Don’t:

  • Fried or scrambled eggs/omelettes vs. Hard boiled eggs
  • Bacon, sausage (including scrapple, etc.), ham, or (occasionally) steak vs. Fish, lamb, chicken, hamburger
  • Hash browns, home fries, or (if the cook is lazy) french fries vs. Baked, boiled, scalloped or au gratin potatoes
  • Toast, muffins (English and otherwise), biscuits vs. Cake

Open 24 Hours for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner!Butter is the standard lubricant (not olive oil or anything fancy). Non-starchy vegetables (especially green ones) are rarely seen, unless they’re safely hidden away in an omelette.

Coffee, tea, and the occasional hot cocoa are the drinks of choice; no one orders a bourbon on the rocks with breakfast (if they do, they should consider it a different kind of wake-up call.)

These delineations aren’t a bad thing, as they might be at any other meal. Rather, they create a sort of freedom, one that makes things like full consciousness or full pockets optional. And therein lies one of the subtle beauties of the classic diner breakfast: it’s the one meal you can order half-asleep, half-drunk, half-broke, and/or half-anything and still be guaranteed something pretty darned good.

I’d say that’s certainly worth getting up (or staying up) for.

(Photo Credits: Diner Coffee by andyj682, The Breakfast Club by mhaithaca, American Breakfast by eabenes, Coffee by j. reed, Neon by phxpma)

Hugging the Coast Blog Fast ForwardPlease join us tomorrow to read our newest article, Community Breakfasts: A Reason to Put on Your Saturday-Go-To-Eating Best, as part of this week’s special Breakfast Celebration Series.

Hugging the Coast Blog Fast Forward

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