Friday, November 8, 2013


Ask a Glutton: I'm Through With Eggs

What are good breakfast recipes you have for someone who deeply despises the taste of egg? Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, as they say.

The idea that breakfast is the most important meal is, I think, largely due to propaganda by the cereal industry. Why can’t the most important meal of the day be afternoon tea, or lunch? Or a burrito that you eat in bed at 3 a.m. while hate-watching the worst of Netflix? But that said, yes, breakfast is important! There is also something so intensely personal about breakfast; it’s the least performative meal, I think, the meal that is the most in tune with your personal preferences and idiosyncrasies, the meal that you don’t have to apologize for. Have you ever seen this slideshow of people’s portraits next to pictures of what they eat for breakfast every day? Fascinating.

So if you’re eating breakfast by yourself, eat whatever you want. Asian cultures are a great source of inspiration for non-egg breakfasts, from Chinese congee rice porridge to Vietnamese pho, and even Malaysian kaya toast (which yes, does contain egg, but tastes more of creamy coconuttyness than anything else). But I suspect that solo breakfasts aren’t really the issue here. If you’re old enough to use a computer, you’re probably old enough to have figured out what strange combinations of starches and proteins and what have you that you prefer to start your day out with. No, the real issue for the nutritionally nonconformist is always other people. After all, throughout your life you will probably be overnight host to a number of people; friends, relatives, boyfriends and girlfriends, couchsurfers, one-night stands. And those people need to be fed. 

I'd argue that the best answer to this conundrum is crepes. They’re delicious, versatile, and seem fancy but are actually super simple to make. Just combine a cup of flour, half a cup of milk, two eggs, and two tablespoons of butter, and voila! If you are totally opposed to egg in even its sneakier, batter-infiltrating forms, you can always substitute vegetable oil. The first crepe is always a little wonky (I’ve been telling people there’s a Russian folk saying to that effect for years, but I just googled it, and it turns out I may have made it up), but after that, it’s easy as pie. Also, I’m pretty sure that it’s a scientific fact that the best way to get someone to love you forever is to feed them crepes with nutella and strawberries, so use your newfound breakfast powers wisely.

A few of my close friends have started playing Dungeons and Dragons, despite being well-adjusted and in their late 20s/early 30s with steady girlfriends and healthy social lives.  Naturally I am horrified; now I know what a soldier feels like when watching the best men in his company mowed down by an unrelenting barrage of enemy fire / gonorrhea . These friends enjoy the finer things in life: your art house cinema, your craft beer and single malt scotch, your gallery walks, etc., which makes this recent interest of theirs even more mind-boggling. If this "hobby" of theirs continues, I fear the worst: cosplay. I think my best bet would be to invite them over on their scheduled game night and cook them a meal that will break the spell that has been cast over them by the cruel Dungeon Master we call Irony. Which is where you come in: what culinary chicanery would you suggest cooking up for these Level 5 Losers to ensure they forget they ever enjoyed sitting around pretending they were elves/goblins? I just want my friends back.

BilBro Baggins

Before I answer this question, I should admit to a slight bias in favor of Dungeons and Dragons. True, I don’t have enough nerd street cred to have actually played, but I am a big fan of that one Freaks & Geeks episode where Daniel plays D&D with the Geeks, and an endlessly charming and fun-looking time is had by all. If I’m being honest, I’ve always wanted to learn how to play myself; all that imaginative yelling looks right up my alley. Only my lack of a sufficient concentration of similarly inclined friends has prevented me from achieving my dream. So you should probably take it with a massive grain of salt when I tell you this, but, knock it off, man!

Absolutely everyone in the world needs a hobby. Especially in need are those of us whose day jobs involve repressing, to whatever extent, our creative urges. Some of us macrame, some of us garden, and yes, some of us dress up like fictional characters and hang out in convention centers. Your friends sound like serious, responsible people who, for the most part, have their real world  lives worked out. I don’t see any harm in them escaping to the elf kingdom every once in a while. In fact, part of me suspects that you can’t really be this upset about a little bit of escapism, especially if you’re not being forced to participate.

And maybe that’s the problem; it’s just not your thing, and their things used to be the same as your things, and it sucks that that’s not the case anymore. It can kind of be the worst thing when you don’t like the same things as your friends, and start feeling left out of whatever non you involving activities they start planning. Fortunately, there is a culinary solution to this as well. They might already have a Dungeon master, but they’re probably still in need of a master chef! OK, that was a pretty terrible transition. But my point remains; making snacks for the group is an excellent way to participate without having to perfect your dwarf impression or dice rolling skills. Ina Garten’s cheese straws are perfect; they’re delicious, easy to eat while distracted, and inject a certain amount of Hamptons prepster class into even the broiest of occasions. Plus, if all the dragon-slaying gets to be a bit much for you, they pair excellently with a really strong martini.

What should I make to receive my illegitimate baby's father's Texan parents?

I think I should open by saying that your illegitimate baby is the future. I mean this both in the general sense , and in the particular: the CDC estimates that 40.7 percent of all American babies are born by unwed mothers. So if your baby’s grandparents are concerned with the normalcy of the whole thing, they can rest easy.

Since you mention specifically that said grandparents are Texan, and since your email address comes from a server more commonly used outside of the U.S., I’m guessing that the issue here is one of cultural exchange as much as nontraditional parenting. (Though I could certainly be wrong.) My first impulse was to tell you to make something “American,” to show them you’re interested in becoming part of their family, and sending you the recipe for one of my great grandmother’s famous Tex-Mex creations. But on second thought, that seems like a mistake. The aim of what you’re doing is ultimately to introduce them to you; your background, your parents, your likes and dislikes, the things that make you the wonderful golden girl that their beloved son chose to make an illegitimate baby with. You need to make something that feels like home.

The common thread across familial recipes seems to be that they take time, elevating cheap ingredients to sublime deliciousness with long and careful cooking. This is true across cultures,  from Filipino adobo to Japanese curry and French coq au vin; the coziest, homiest dishes are recipes that will take their time in coming together. This looks different for every family, and here you are, conveniently, in the process of forming  a brand new family of your very own, which means that you get to pick what your family foods are, what recipes make you feel the most at home.

In my family, for example, homey food usually means a big pot of vegetable soup, and a loaf of homemade bread—usually Jim Lahey’s famous no knead bread, which is so simple and delicious that it’s practically canonical at this point. The New York Times published the classic version a few years ago, but variations abound. The soup is perfect because it is both delicious, foolproof, and endlessly adaptable. Just saute a mix of equal parts onion, carrot, and celery, with a few garlic cloves thrown in for good measure. Then lower the temperature of the stove, add broth and whatever vegetable bits and ends you have lying around, adding them roughly in the order of how long they’ll take to cook (for example, potatoes first, then green beans, kale last of all). Then toss in—and this is the crucial part—a can of diced tomatoes. If you have a rind of parmesan cheese lying around, make sure to add that as well; it’s one of my mother’s best tricks and lends a delicious savory note to the proceedings without overwhelming the flavors of the vegetables. Lower the heat to almost nothing, and go watch a movie, or paint your nails, or clean the house, or do whatever else it takes to relax yourself before company comes. The soup will be ready when you are. If you want something more substantial, toss in a can of chickpeas, cannellini, or great northern beans, or boil some small pasta shapes and add those right before you serve the soup. This is comfortable, easy food, food that will fill your house with its warmth and smell and make everyone who walks in the door feel at home.

But, as I said, home cooking is different for everyone, and this might not be what you’re looking for. So I’m opening this one up to the commenters: what are your most cherished family recipes? Any tips for dishes so delicious that they overcome all bounds of region and relation? Share them for the letter writer, and me, and anyone else who finds themselves in the position of having to make a new family for themselves.


Previously: When Your Food Groups Are Cheese, Chocolate, and Coffee

Photo via bensheldon/flickr.

Emily Beyda is a part-time writer and full-time snack enthusiast who lives in a treehouse in the Hollywood hills. Ask her anything.

48 Comments / Post A Comment


первый блин — комом
It's a real saying!

Also, "blin" is also the polite way of saying, like, "damn."


@psychedelicate Oh rats, I was just coming down to say that. Definitely a Russian saying!


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@psychedelicate Please translate!


D&D is wonderful, and I will magic missle anyone who says otherwise.


@adorable-eggplant But I will add that the advice in response is perfect. If someone wanted to bring cheese straws to a game night, I would not turn them away.


@adorable-eggplant D&D can be really great. :D Rogues foreverrrrr.

H.E. Ladypants

@adorable-eggplant Absolutely. I get together with the same group of friends every week and we entertain ourselves through communal story-telling. It's a great creative outlet and conducive to close long term relationships. How is that not adult good times?


@celeec4@twitter I play a thief in my group's game (AD&D 1E) and it is a heartbreakingly thankless task. I have yet to find a trap (10% success rate, so I'm not holding my breath) and this includes the time where I checked, found nothing, and said, "Coast is clear." Upon which our tank proceed to walk straight into a pit.

@H.E. Ladypants I am constantly trying to convert new gamers, because seriously folks: it's good, cheap fun! Did I mention cheap! And I love the creative aspect. I have so many great memories of the surprising things my friends have cooked up in their delightful brains and a million inside jokes, and it's just wonderful.

H.E. Ladypants

@adorable-eggplant The more I think about it, the more I find it totally interesting the way that sitting around and making up your own stories just for funsies is less socially acceptable. Enjoying other people's stories (movies, TV, books), totally okay. Stories we participate in (table top and video games), less acceptable. Stories we create together (table top RPGs, fanfiction), bottom of the stack. I feel like there's this weird aspect of consumer culture where, well, it's okay to consume culture but as soon as you are actively engaging in making culture, that's not okay. Despite the fact that people have been telling stories in fictional worlds they find appealing (Arthurian Legends, Robin Hood, classical myths) basically forever.

I guess the caveat is that if you're making culture for OTHER people to consume, it's fine. But as soon as you're just making stories for the sheer glee of it, well, that's just the bottom of the social heap.


@H.E. Ladypants It is kind of the whole, lol at enthusiasm that mainstream kind of does right? It's okay to enjoy a movie, but the moment you start to fangirl about it, everyone kinda side-eyes you. orz


@H.E. Ladypants Such an on point observation! I think some of it has to do with being uncomfortable with vulnerability. And like celeec4 said, unvarnished, unironic enthusiasm also makes some people uncomfortable, which is a shame.

When you're consuming stuff, it's easier to have some distance, like, "Oh that movie is okay, but not great or whatever." But when you make something, especially on the fly, in front of people, it's a lot harder to have that distance.


@adorable-eggplant Damn straight.


@H.E. Ladypants Also, the way nobody is allowed to sing anymore. Music is strictly for the professionals.


Damn you Big Cereal! LUNCH FOREVER.


Really? Didn't realize nerd culture was still stigmatized to that much of an extent. You'd think "Bilbro's" friends were joining the KKK with the amount of heat that was coming off that letter.

Seriously though, give it a try a few times, it may not be your thing but maybe you'll actually enjoy it. To add to the Freaks and Geeks episode, I've heard good things about this episode of community: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1824317/


@Biketastrophy That episode of Community is the best. Absolute best.

ETA: And yeah, it's so hyperbolic that I wondered if it was satire. I mean "unrelenting barrage of enemy fire / gonorrhea"? They're sitting around a table drinking beer and rolling dice. It's not painful.


@Biketastrophy Yeah, Bilbro Baggins is a dick. (Of course, I say that as someone who, along with her mostly partnered and healthy-social-lives-sharing friends, has started playing the Game of Thrones board game at least once a week since the Spring.)

Lily Rowan

@adorable-eggplant Um, yeah. That letter? Satire for sure.

But also I think all of the questions in this column could be answered with cheese straws! Ot other cheese-based items. (Sorry, vegans.)


@Lily Rowan Cheese straws for everyone!

I'm torn about whether the letter is real. I don't think most people are self-described 'bro's, but then again I was reading a book in the computer science building and overheard a conversation that could not have been more earnestly 'brogrammer'ish if they had tried... so? Maybe some people really do think still that the only people who play D&D are girlfriendless losers... I mean, it's 2013, but people can sure cling to stereotypes. Maybe Bilbro is worried that his friends will fall prey to those 'fake geek girls' he's heard so much about.


@adorable-eggplant And being partnered says nothing about social skill. [sorry, just still being grumpy about what was probably a wind-up] That's one of my least favorite fallacies. Very socially gifted people can be unpartnered.


@adorable-eggplant TRUTH.


@Biketastrophy I too thought that the letter writer was the problem, not all the other friends. It's okay to try stuff out and see if it's fun, guys.


Yo, BilBro: Go buy some cheetos and play Duck Hunt for a few hours and you will find yourself cured of Aggressive Maturity Syndrome. I am more worried for you than for your friends.

apples and oranges

I stand by the position that you need not exclusively eat breakfast foods in the morning. Have a veggie wrap! Or pasta! Or a salad! Or some potatoes with butter! Or cheese and crackers!


@apples and oranges I alternate these days between 1) scrambled eggs with a green, garlic and cheese, sometimes in a tortilla, and 2) quesidillas (with refried beans, cheese and salsa or veggies). Both take less than 10 minutes to make and are hot and tasty and filling and high protien and have veggies.

I get on kicks for breakfast though. Oatmeal with applesauce mixed in. Sesame bagels, toasted with peanut butter. English muffins, toasted with cheese and a slice of veggie meat. But I like it when there's veggies involved, and it's hot and quick.


@apples and oranges Dinner for breakfast! Or there's my current favorite: quinoa cooked with a veg bouillon cube (shut up, it could be Lucky Charms), shredded carrots and lots of black pepper. Although I am grateful for breakfast time, because when else would I eat grapefruit? No other time of day really lends itself to carving little bits out of a big citrus shell and then juicing the whole thing.


@apples and oranges I've said it here before, but my personal best breakfast is two greasy samosas from a kiosk in the subway station.


@apples and oranges
I think part of the problem is that breakfast has held out as our last guardian of blandness. No garlic, no spiciness, no big punches of umami (except in the form of breakfast meats, but that's another story). Just: eggs, oats, cereal grains: no wonder everything on the breakfast menu turns into a sugar-fest.

Case in point: I find a plain fried egg almost gag-inducing to eat. A bowl of garlicky refried black beans and broccoli, topped with a runny fried egg and soy sauce? AMAZEBALLS. In short, unless you're a person who can only handle blandness in the mornings, I also support throwing out the breakfast book and just making whatever you want.


@ThatWench yayyyyy!


I'll second bread and bean soup. Although bread and any soup is probably fine. A hearty bean soup in particular, as a meal, I tend to find is also one of those things that you can make vegan but will pass with out comment from all but the most hardcore carnivore.


Here is the answer to breakfast:


@PomoFrannyGlass I make this almost every weekend and it's the BEST. I'm on a mission to spread the gospel of baked pumpkin pie oatmeal to all my friends.


I'm definitely intrigued by this idea, although I'm a little concerned that it will come out crazy-sugary. Do you tweak it, or is it better as-is?

crane your neck

This was such a great aside:
(I’ve been telling people there’s a Russian folk saying to that effect for years, but I just googled it, and it turns out I may have made it up.)


Kaya toast!!!!!!!!!! I've also had some great bibimbap for breakfast before.


My boyfriend and I did a post on our blog a while back on Japanese breakfast options, here: gorumando.com/the-japanese-breakfast

I actually am kind of a cereal person, though, so my usual is homemade muesli (steel cut oats, shredded coconut, sliced almonds) soaked overnight in plain yogurt + frozen blueberries or chopped apple + drizzle of honey and/or cinnamon.


I was scrolling through that gallery of breakfast photos being like "what have these people never HEARD of avocado on toast?" And then I found my soulmate!


my roomate's aunt makes $71/hr on the laptop. She has been unemployed for ten months but last month her income was $15288 just working on the laptop for a few hours. important source ........http://www.works23.com


I was scrolling through that gallery of breakfast photos being like "what have these people never HEARD of avocado on toast?" And then I found my soulmate!

máy tập cơ bụng black power


I'm making $86 an hour working from home. I was shocked when my neighbour told me she was averaging $95 but I see how it works now. I feel so much freedom now that I'm my own boss. This is what I do, www.Cloud200.com


I would like to take the opportunity to be the one very late to the conversation whose only contribution is to say: I love, love, LOVE this series.



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Well, I wouldn't consider myself a glutton but I just love food. It's like my anti-depressant. It get me really happy. - Aldo Disorbo

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Tayyab Khan

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