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Mar '09

Community Breakfasts: A Reason to Put on Your Saturday-Go-To-Eating Best

by Doug DuCap

Book Excerpts and Food Articles by Doug DuCap

As far as appetizing food terms go, ‘Community Fundraiser’ probably wouldn’t elicit anything like a Pavlovian response in most people (except maybe to clutch your wallet tightly and scurry away.)

Unless of course, you’ve come to associate the term with good eats and lots of ‘em!

We first learned about these all-you-can-eat events in Ithaca, NY, where the fundraisers
held by the volunteer fire stations are legendary for the quality (and quantity) of their cooking. Since then, whenever we’re driving along and see a sign for a community meal, our Pavlovian response is to slam on the brakes and quickly jot down the information (before our salivating makes the paper too damp!)

Here in the Lowcountry, a fundraiser of any type without food would be, to put it mildly, extremely unsuccessful. When a fire station, school, church, pet shelter, political group, fraternal order, or historical preservation committee needs money, they hold fish frys, oyster roasts, pig pickin’s, crab cracks, and more.

All of these events are worth attending, especially since they offer the opportunity to help one’s community. Or perhaps they just offer an excuse to stuff one’s face while helping one’s community. Is that so wrong?

Firehouse Community Breakfast

One of our favorites is the community breakfast. Though these are sometimes called “Pancake Breakfasts”, don’t be misled: even if you don’t like pancakes there will be plenty of other sweet and savory goodies to fill your plate. They’re almost always held early on Saturday mornings and are guaranteed to offer the best deal in town.

Community breakfastRecently, we attended a terrific community breakfast at the Bethany Methodist Church on James Island just outside of Charleston, SC. Incidentally, you don’t need to be a card-carrying member of a particular sect to attend one of these events; no one is checking ID’s at the door! :)

Seating (as is often the case) was in a sprawling “multi-purpose” room with all the trappings of its other purposes: big-screen TV, upright piano (locked, of course), kiddie play area, popcorn cart (for Movie Night), etc.

After we paid at the tiny table by the door, we were offered a small sheet of paper with a checklist of items that we could have in a made-to-order omelette, if we so desired.

Before we committed ourselves, we followed the line of famished faithful through another door into a large kitchen staffed by friendly volunteers who, while not professional chefs, were certainly enthusiastic amateurs. On a stainless-steel counter that ran the width of the room, they’d laid out a gorgeous Southern-style breakfast feast. Here, in order from left to right, was the layout:

Homemade biscuits, creamy grits, sausage gravy, scrambled eggs, pancakes, french toast strips, sausage patties, thick cut bacon, grilled ham, grilled smoked sausage, split grilled hot dogs (!?), an array of homemade cakes, cookies, and mini-muffins, the omelette station (with all the usual suspects), a variety of jams and preserves, and finally, a vat of ‘hot buttered syrup’ to drizzle on just about everything.

Just outside the kitchen were tables with coffee, tea, juices, and milk. We grabbed some coffee, set our plates down on a pink Formica table, and were transported to Breakfast Heaven.

In the end, we didn’t order one of the custom omelets, but we did make a second trip through to sample anything we weren’t able to fit on the plate the first time, along with a couple of repeats like the ‘grits & gravy’ and the incredible country bacon.

And the cost for all of this splendor? A mere five bucks. Like they say down here, that’s what you call a broken drum deal – you can’t beat it!

Seek out and attend these community meals whenever you can. You’ll actually be doing good by eating well. Your Sunday-Go-To-Meeting finery may be a little tighter the next day, but you’ll have happy memories of your Saturday-Go-To-Eating breakfast!


Hugging the Coast Blog Fast ForwardPlease join us tomorrow to read our new recipe for Sailor’s Eggs (or Eggs in a Nest).

Hugging the Coast Blog Fast Forward

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(Photo Credits: Silverdale Volunteer Firehouse Breakfast by andrewconrad, Chief McEwen by mhaithaca.)

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