The other day I was at work, and a woman came in and ordered breakfast. She had her New York Times with her, and she knew exactly what she wanted.
Half a baguette, toasted, with butter. And a few slices of gruyere, topped with a an equal number of slices of prosciutto. And four or five olives. She filled her coffee cup from the pot as I started cutting the first baguette of the day.
I created her perfect breakfast, slightly off the menu as it was. I created it with love as if it was going to feed one of my very own children. She knew what she wanted, and I wanted her to have it, to start her day with the accomplishment of her ideal breakfast.
I wouldn’t be honest with you if I didn’t admit that I was a little jealous.
These days the morning starts off at breakneck speed, and it just continues on from there. On the weekdays it is 6:30, and Sadie is still in her pajamas sneaking another chapter of her babysitter’s club book, and Rosie is just buried under her comforter emitting an occasional meow when I suggest that she emerge. Then it is 6:40, and I am throwing apples and cheese sticks into patterned lunchboxes, and maybe one girl streaks through the kitchen in underwear only, and I try to find out what that girl might want for breakfast, and lately they are just cruising down to the table at 6:58, exactly 2 minutes before Joey will drive the Subaru to school (“with or without you young ladies!”)
Lately it’s toast. And that’s it. Today we snuck in an egg, as there was an extra minute or two.
Then they are off. And I keep moving at the same speed.
But I’ve been thinking lately about leisure. About time. About slowness. I’ve been thinking about the little things that make all of that feel possible. And I have been obsessing, yes obsessing, about Turkish breakfast.
It’s been almost a year since I went to Turkey–since my loveliest friend Lissa and I got on a plane and showed up at Molly and Aurel’s little brightly painted apartment in Istanbul. That trip was like a life outside of life, and I still don’t quite know how it happened, or rather, how we made it happen. It was one of the moments of my my life where I felt like I was on the verge of everything, and somehow wandering those streets in search of the next slice of sticky baklava evoked the sensation that I was wandering through my life in the best kind of lost way, and I was finding exactly what I was looking for.
And like the baklava, life was tasting pretty good to me. That, I suppose, is why I travel whenever I get the chance.
So almost a year later, I’m thinking again about those cold and upwardly winding streets. Even after all this time, that trip stays with me, and I’m thinking about the buzzing of all of my cells when I got home. And about how breakfast says so much about the culture that eats it.
I love the French breakfast that I get to serve at work. Whatever the variations, I love the luxury and sheer joy of that buttered baguette, maybe with a tang of cheese and a salt of thinly sliced meat. It’s all about the bread, and that’s wonderful. And in the same way that that baguette is so French, so lovely and so something that feels like breakfast in another place, Turkish breakfast makes me actually be back on that trip–it makes me start my day with slowness and perspective in a way that granola just wont do. It’s that I care enough about what I am about to eat to actually chop some parsley, to pull together so many elements onto one plate, just because I want to. It is like I am making myself a little piece of art. I am worth a little piece of art, especially in the morning. After all, on any given day, you never know what might be ahead.