Breakfast can change your life. I'm cereal.
My parents never let me and my siblings eat anything colorful for breakfast because our version of colorful meant Cap’n Crunch, Fruit Loops, and Lucky Charms.
The only acceptable breakfast cereals were Cheerios (not honey-nut), Raisin Bran, and Frosted Flakes. The Frosted Flakes were clearly the best option of the three because they were frosted and you didn’t have to pick out the raisins.
Subsequently, we got it into our heads that brown was the color of breakfast. If it was brown, it must be healthy, right? This meant that it was totally fine if I skipped breakfast at home and waited until I got to school where I could buy a bagel with extra cream cheese and a chocolate brownie and scarf it all down just before class started. The brownie had little colorful sprinkles on top, which made me feel like a rebel.
College was a blur of all the colorful cereals I was never allowed to eat before, especially since it was available all-you-can-eat-buffet-style in the campus cafeteria. I went to classes still drunk and hungover off sugar-milk. I ate that shit for breakfast, lunch, and dinner because I was an adult now and tiny little marshmallows soaked in milk were adult food.
What I’m saying is that my relationship with breakfast has been very typically American. Moving to San Francisco introduced me to avocado toast brunches on the weekends, but …actually, that’s a lie, it was french toast. With powdered sugar and maple syrup and a big dollop of whipped butter on top.
I never gave breakfast the respect it deserves until I moved to Barcelona and met a girl from Cyprus who taught me that color wasn’t the enemy of breakfast. And that I could be living so much larger.
One fine Saturday morning, as I sat at her table looking through my emails, my friend and her Catalonian boyfriend began to set up for breakfast. As they brought out dish… after dish… after dish… I finally had to pull my laptop off the table to make room for them.
Before me was a feast:
Fresh-baked bread she’d made the night before, warmed and cut into steaming slices
Jams and Tahini (a sesame seed spread)
Halloumi (a delightfully melty, rubbery cheese made from a mixture of goat and sheep’s milk) and an assortment of other cheeses
Green, loose-leaf tea made in a gorgeous glass teapot she’d found in Morroco so you could see all the leaves and flowers floating around inside
Strawberries, grapes, kiwi slices, watermelon slices, orange slices
Olives covered in oil and herbs
Fresh-squeezed orange juice
Cottage cheese and yogurt
A bowl of assorted nuts
A plate of eggs, fried over-easy and seasoned almost to perfection with olive oil, salt, pepper, and basil (I probably would have added some tajin and hot sauce and maybe some beans and rice, but I’m from Arizona).
“Holy shit, what’s the occasion?” I asked.
She sat down and smiled at me in that way that Europeans will often smile at people from the U.S. — perplexed and a little pitying but kind.
“Breakfast,” she responded.