Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Heroin for Breakfast

Ah, breakfast. Such a culinary paradox. Our natural inclinations to diversify our diet are so easily repressed, ignored, or forgotten, every morning. If you eat the exact same chicken stir-fry dish every night for a week, you get sick of it. And your friends might think that you're either a little nuts, or that you really need to branch out. Or both.

The usual rules don't apply at breakfast. We've all had that period in our lives where we ate the same cereal every morning for months on end. Until maybe we hit a wild streak and tried a new granola bar. Then it was the new granola bar every morning for a month. We want to start the day in a comfortable place, and so we conform to our comfortable morning routines.

My comforting morning sustenance routine has included a mug of English breakfast tea (with milk) every day for the last year and a half. The upbeat, never annoying, whistle of the tea kettle is my merry morning song. Some streaky symphonic contributors over recent months have included Honey Nut Cheerios, ginger bread cookies, vanilla-almond granola with yogurt, toast with honey butter and a soft boiled egg. Lately, however, breakfast has taken a dangerous new direction.

It all started very innocently a few weeks ago. I had innocently stopped off at Le Pain Quotidien to purchase an innocent baguette, when I innocently overheard a conversation taking place that piqued my epi-curiousity. A customer was chatting and laughing with the woman behind the counter; "Um, ok, yes, I'd like to try it," he concedes. She offers him a spoonful of something that looks fantastic. She pauses, "Well? Am I right?!" I'm trying not to stare. "Oh wow," he finally sighs, "that reminds me so vividly of my childhood. When I was a boy, we ate something just like that every day for breakfast in my country (which, I come to find out, is Turkey). I've had Nutella, which is close, and tastes okay, but this," his eyes widening, "this is perfect." Suddenly he turns to me (oh crap! I was staring!) and says, "Never, ever, eat this. It is like heroin." He turns back to the woman at the counter, "I'm sorry. I can't. It's too good." And then he leaves. But I swear on my baguette, not 30 seconds later, he was back buying a whole jar of the stuff. Heroin.

Noisella, it's called. Nostalgia in a jar. Belgian chocolate and hazelnut spread. And yes - not one to heed warnings about food, especially food dubbed "perfect" - I did buy a jar for myself. Once again, it started innocently. It's daily a.m. usage was accompanied by croissants and crusty bread, consumed with my morning tea. Now, fully addicted, I caught myself today dipping pretzels and trying to justify it as lunch. And doing it again for dinner. And realizing I did that yesterday, too. Admitting you have a problem is the first step. I might be a little nuts, and I definitely need to branch out. When a routine becomes an obsession, it's time to shake things up.

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