I don’t eat frosted flakes, but that animated tiger was right about one thing: there is nothing quite like breakfast. In my opinion, no other meal is equal. I would never eat dinner or lunch for breakfast, but I jump at the chance to have toast slathered with peanut butter and topped with banana for dinner, or a pita stuffed with hard-boiled egg, cheeses, and Israeli salad for lunch.
Now that Taly and I are both working, we both have a similar morning routine (although Taly is not a morning lover). We eat breakfast together and read the news, often pausing to give our thoughts or ask each other’s help in understanding the details of a confusing story. When we don’t have a physical newspaper or access to online news, Taly and I brush off our mental cobwebs with a crossword – although we avoid the NYTimes Sunday crossword. We usually don’t finish a whole crossword in one sitting since we don’t want to let too much distract us from our always-tasty food.
Back in the U.S., my favorite breakfast is toast covered in Smucker’s all natural, smooth peanut butter and sliced banana, drizzled honey. Taly doesn’t like peanut butter, though, so I am alone in my love for this breakfast item. If we are in a hurry, Taly and I usually just eat cereal. If time (and available ingredients) allows, we often make toast or biscuits topped with a variation of some, or all, of the following: avocado, cheese, tomato, and egg.
In Israeli, no breakfast compares with the morning meal Taly’s safta serves us when we spend Shabbat in Herzliya. By the time we wake up, burekas and pitas are already coming out of the oven and being put on the table. After this, the number of dishes on the table multiply. Israeli salad, mashed avocado, homemade hummus, hard-boiled eggs, fried eggplant, ktzezot, a variety of cheeses, and orange juice somehow manage to fit on the small table. The challenge is choosing what to eat from the countless options. Before doing anything else, I heap a large mound of Israeli salad onto my plate. No matter what I choose to eat, I always want to have enough salad. I usually start with a pita stuffed with avocado, hummus, tzfatit cheese, Israeli salad, hard-boiled egg, and a slice or two of eggplant. I mix any remaining salad with cottage cheese and a little avocado. It’s a delicious way to start the day!
The meal’s final touches are coffee or tea with something sweet (eating something sweet after every meal is necessary in Israel… I don’t complain). Sometimes the dessert is rugelach Taly’s safta picked up from the grocery. I’ve eaten a variety of rugelach in Israel (including ones from the famous bakery Marzipan in Jerusalem), and I think the supermarket rugelach Taly’s safta has for us is by far the best. Even better in terms of breakfast treats is the apple jam Taly’s safta makes. A simple spread comprised of cooked apples and a few spices, this jam is perfect atop toast with a little bit of white cheese or halva. Since it tastes amazing and is made of apples, it must be healthy – so I make sure to slather it on my toast so as not to miss out on any of its restorative properties.
My love for breakfast goes beyond the unbeatable food: breakfast is one of the best times to spend quality time with loved ones. I remember sharing the breakfast table with all of my siblings before school. After they went to college, one by one, and I entered high school, breakfast became a time I shared with my dad (my mom usually left earlier for school). We’d split the paper into different sections and exchange after we finished reading. I peppered my dad with questions about politics, sports, world events, and any Doonesbury references I didn’t get. Among other topics, he patiently explained Balkan history, Ronald Reagan’s economic policies, the Supreme Court, the Red Sox’s pitching woes, and why George Bush’s avatar was a centurion’s helmet. I always questioned his answers as I craved more information. I often returned to a previous day’s topic for clarification or elaboration, and our breakfast times became like a lecture series, with each morning building on the previous ones. I am thankful for my dad’s patience; I believe our morning routine helped my critical thinking and primed my brain for each day’s exertions, as well as developed my ability to operate at full mental capacity in the morning. Beyond the intellectual development, it was great to spend those forty-five minutes each day with my dad.
So now, I love eating breakfast with Taly each morning. Even if we are in a rush, or even if we spend most of the meal reading the news, the time together invigorates me and enriches the rest of the day.