BY CHRISTINE BARBOUR
When I am home, I am a creature of routine.
Most of my days start the exact same way. I get up early, I work out, and then I eat fruit and Greek yogurt for breakfast. The only thing that changes is the fruit—fragrant peaches and berries in summer. Crisp apples and perfumed pears in fall. A bit of the imported tropics to cheer me up through the long winter—luscious pineapple and oranges and banana. But still, it is mostly the same, and mostly routine, day after day after day. Healthy living. It matters to me and so I do it.
When I am home.
Traveling, however, means all breakfast bets are off. Food speaks eloquently of where you are, and you aren’t really traveling if you eat the same thing you would eat at home. That’s my story, anyway, and in the name of fabulous road breakfasts, I am sticking to it. Consider these splendid examples that have come my lucky way in the last year.
A heaping, spicy plate of chilaquiles in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Corny, homemade tortillas, layered with fiery sauce and topped with melted cheese. Southwestern breakfasts are the best, because nothing starts your day up like the power of chilies.
Bagels and lox in New York where they taste better than they do anywhere else in the world. I have had lovely bagels in Bloomington from the Bloomington Bagel Company, and still, for this New York girl, there is no taste like home. Toasted bagel, hard and chewy, lavished with cream cheese and heaped with rosy lox, a ripe tomato slice, a few rings of onion, and a scattering of capers.
Fresh, tropical fruit in Maui. Tasting like no imported pineapple or papaya could ever taste in Bloomington, a rainbow of flavor and color, brightened with a squeeze of lime.
Hot chocolate on a winter day in snowy Prague, topped with billows of cream. Period. Because if you are having great hot chocolate, who needs more?
And my number one favorite breakfast in the world, at the Relais Saint Germain, a tiny hotel in Paris. Simple, simple, simple, but each component exquisitely sourced: the croissant and the baguette from the patisserie around the corner, the cheese from the mountains in the south, the ham from Spain, the apricot preserves from a local jam maker. Nothing, really nothing, makes me happier.
The fact that I indulge my inner breakfast monster when I am on the road means that I miss some pretty wonderful breakfasts in Bloomington. Pick a pastry, any pastry, at BLU Boy Chocolate Café & Cakery. You can’t go wrong. (And keep your eyes peeled for a new development there that I can only describe as sticky buns on steroids. Actually, that’s not the only way I can describe them, but that’s a future column.) Also, Indonesian corn fritters at The Uptown Café. The layered, spicy goodness of the huevos rancheros at The Village Deli.
I once read that one thing people who successfully keep off the weight they have lost have in common is that they eat yogurt every day, so I do. Except for the days that I don’t, the ones that make those yogurt-eating days oh-so-much-more necessary.
Healthy habits are good. So is breaking them occasionally.
To read more by Christine Barbour, visit her blog, My Plate or Yours?