Archive for August 9th, 2011


Restaurants: Breakfast in America

If you take a vacation in the U.S. and want to know what Americans are eating, the logical place to start is breakfast. I realize most Europeans don’t even have breakfast restaurants, and their days often start with just a plain croissant, here in America, big breakfasts are a tradition, consumed by millions.

NEWS: Breakfast is when many get out and read the newspaper. A daily news box will be located by the restaurant door. Buy one.

COFFEE: While Europeans make strong coffee, by slowly grinding beans, and then pouring hot water over them, into a small cup, not much larger than a shot glass, Americans reject that hard-core approach, and instead make large, but relatively weak pots of coffee, so they can continue pouring all morning into large American-style cups. Americans are satisfied with coffee this way. Most will not go to a Starbucks, because they just don’t need or want expensive brews. All they want is hot coffee, with unlimited refills. Americans just want to keep the coffee flowing.

SPECIALS: Americans like to order the special at family-owned places, which usually means: two eggs, bacon or sausage, two pieces of toast, potatoes, and coffee, all for a reasonable price.

OMELETS: The stereotypical American breakfast would have to be the Western or Denver Omelet. Ham, peppers, and onions must be cut finely, and cannot be too numerous. In the Upper Midwest, every omelet has cheese–it’s an absolute necessity. QUICHE: I am surprised more places don’t offer a ham and cheese quiche, but I suppose it sounds too French for most manly-men.

BACON: American breakfasts include some kind of meat, usually bacon or sausage. Since the origin of a sausage is unclear, bacon is usually my choice. The bacon has to be served hot; it cannot be burned to a crisp, or worse yet, undercooked.

TOAST: Toasted whole-wheat or whole-grain bread is usually best. Some restaurants seem to be using less butter these days, but I for one just cannot eat toast, if it is cold, or too dry. BAGELS: Some have deviated from toast, by opening bagel shops, but for me, food from an Einstein’s Bagel place just doesn’t cut it.

POTATOES: I could skip potatoes, in any form, but everyone now seems to be serving them, and in much larger quantities than needed. In the North, they are known as hash browns, and in the South, they are called home fries. Whatever their name, they have to be laced with grated onions, and seasoned, so they are not too bland. The worst potato crime of all is to serve them raw.

FRUIT: Some forward-leaning restaurants are now offering a fruit substitute in place of potatoes. A place in Florida offered bananas.

PANCAKES: I have to admit I always liked the Grand Slam breakfast at Denny’s, consisting of 2 eggs, 2 sausage, 2 toast, and 2 pancakes. There is however something unhealthy in pancake mixes that must be avoided. Regular syrup, loaded with sugar, is also a killer. So, go somewhere other than an IHOP or Perkins.

BAKERIES: Sweet rolls have a way of calling out your name. We must learn to ignore them. We must deafen our senses to the taste of sugar. Dunkin Donuts wisely switched to an egg and cheese combination, since they know the days of sugar are doomed. Their reformed menu now serves tasty sausage and egg croissants.

CONCLUSION: Buy a newspaper, as you enter. Order coffee, not tea. Pick the special. You’ll get eggs, bacon, toast, and hash browns. Just eat it. Try a Western Omelet, if you want to unload more cash. Eat fruit, if they serve it, but turn down pancakes, syrup, and sweets. When in America, eat like an American.