The Working Waterfront

Breakfast variety multiplies with visitors

Hosting gardening volunteers brings international flavors

Sandy Oliver
Posted 2018-09-27
Last Modified 2018-09-27

Do you eat the same thing for breakfast every day, day after day? Some people eat no breakfast at all, or get by on a piece of toast and a cup of coffee. If you do eat breakfast, chances are very good that you, along with several million other Americans (and maybe others all around the globe) have the same thing every day.

Funny, isn’t it, this tolerance for morning repetition?

Variable breakfast habits are a little more noticeable because my household composition has been pretty diverse recently. I participate in WWOOF (World Wide Opportunities in Organic Farming) and host volunteer helpers, so I’ve observed perhaps nearly two-dozen breakfast preferences over three growing seasons. There certainly were coffee-and-toast eaters in the lot. Often the helpers have been young people with bigger appetites than I have now, and I observed lots of fried eggs and home fries, toast piled high with scrambled eggs, and bowls full of granola and milk disappearing into youthful systems and watched it power weed pulling, compost turning, planting, and harvesting. 

Honduran WWOOFer Karla Fonseca, a multi-lingual mechanical engineering student in Georgia, liked rice and beans and scrambled eggs laced with any hot peppers she could get her hands on. Karla wasn’t the only one who likes capsicum-heated breakfasts. I’ve learned about avocado toast from Western WWOOFers like Deanna, Chloe, and Ashley and even from a current New England-born helper, Brynn, who mashes up an avocado, spreads it on toast, then, to my horrified astonishment, sprinkles it with generous layer of red pepper flakes. Eeeeyah! For breakfast? Yikes. 

Avocado toast is quite a thing, actually, with claims of origins in Australia and California and its popularity is blamed for impoverishing millennials who spend money on it in restaurants and homemade versions with avocados at $1.39 each. Bless her, Brynn indulged in avocado toast here only when, back in May, they were less costly. She doesn’t expect them now.

Of course I tried it, without red pepper flakes, and have to say it is delicious and probably a great deal more healthful than a bowl of chocolate puffed cereal or any boxed dry dessert-like items masquerading as cereal which, thank goodness, nobody around here likes anyway.

Brynn and I both like berries and yogurt and granola. We started with our own fresh strawberries including some of the tiny white Alpine strawberries I grew that have taken off and naturalized themselves. All we do is take our bowls out to the garden and pick what we want, top with yogurt alone and/or granola. Next are the blueberries and raspberries. I like some of my home-canned peaches until we have fresh peaches. Then comes apples and applesauce with yogurt and granola. Brynn adds chocolate chips to her bowl.

Blueberries in pancakes is for company breakfast, not infrequent here in Vacationland. Recently a bit of leftover blueberry cake disappeared during breakfast-time, but that is a bit too much sweet-stuff for me who vastly prefers a savory start to the day. 

Another WWOOFer, Cris, has peanut butter toast for breakfast, sometimes plain, more often with sliced banana on it, dribbled with honey for his high energy start to the day. Cris also likes toast with peanut butter alone, and toast with tomato slices, too. Peanut butter and cheese on toast is what I eat when I think I need something substantial and portable both, like to eat in the car on a run to the mainland.

Cris’s breakfast choice depends on his location. The peanut butter toast is a Maine summer phenomenon; during his annual three months in Italy, he goes to a pasticceriafor a pastry and coffee breakfast, or sometimes a panino with prosciutto and other savories. When he goes to Scottsdale, Arizona for winters, breakfast is a little more varied and might include eggs or even oatmeal, but peanut butter toast prevails there, too.

“Italy is a whole other ballgame,” he says.

When Meg who WWOOFed from Maryland came, we made a breakfast of cooked faro, a little leftover salad, a modicum of leftover chicken or the like, with a fried egg on top. Delicious, as is leftover cooked rice with a soft-boiled egg stirred in, butter, salt, and pepper. When eggs abound, I love piles of spinach with an egg on it, or basil and garlic softened in butter with an egg on it, or herbs in scrambled eggs. If summer breakfast is delayed until later in the morning, Cris makes us a frittata with fresh vegetables and eggs. 

In winter, I crave oatmeal, or sausage and apples cooked together, and when I am ambitious enough to make it, fried scrapple slices. 

Same breakfast every day? I’d be bored out of my skull.

Sandy Oliver is a food historian who lives, writes, gardens, cooks, and hosts WWOOFers on Islesboro.