America is the breakfast capital of the world. I have been lucky enough to breakfast all over but will happily nail my colours to the mast of pancakes, grits, biscuits and gravy (wait…scratch the gravy) and sausages, both skinny and patty. Don’t even get me started on the wonder-fest that is American breakfast cereals. This realisation first dawned aged approximately 9 years old at a roadside breakfast place just outside Great Smokey Mountains Natl Park, after one of those ‘2 mile hikes’ that felt more like 10 (I blame the trail book that dated from the ’70s…). The kind that was prefaced by ‘it’s ok honey, we’ll just have orange juice and a donut beforehand, we can have a proper breakfast after’. (Wait…how could I forget donuts…?)
Anyway, exhausted, scratched and covered in red smokey mountain mud, nothing on earth tasted more divine than the grits and bacon and eggs sunny side up that were finally my reward. An experience that has been repeated, in one form or another, at so many locations since then, always with good associations (it seems that all good memories start with breakfast). The stack of pancakes and OJ so fresh you could taste the tree in an LA cafe, the hour was ridiculously early courtesy of the jetlag. The diner in Capitol Hill that served beautiful pancakes with everything and was perfect for so many steamy weekend mornings, that whole summer I spent in DC. The truckstop deep in the Texas panhandle where I first (and last) tried gravy with my biscuits, and the 8 hours of squabbling inherent in any family road-trip miraculously ceased. Hell, even the traditional pilgrimage to the giant Krispy Kreme place the first morning of any trip to visit family in Austin. Where I come from, krispy kreme is still an over-priced novelty. A whole cathedral devoted to the things, complete with drive-thru, still blows me away.
I could go on, but you get the idea. It’s said that breakfast is the meal where we miss our home-foods the most, and I can well believe it. Except in this case I’m missing breakfasts that are not-quite-mine, but all the more special for it. I’ll be in Texas and New Orleans in a few months, and already I’m planning the many delicious ways that I’ll be starting my days there.
Smokey Mountain breakfast
3030 Old Mill Avenue
Pigeon Forge Tennessee 37863