When one is caught up in nostalgia, one's thoughts naturally turn to breakfast. After all, I only ever ate it at the correct hour (i.e., in the morning) when I was a child. I'm rather swamped with disbelief when I consider that there was a time I would wake up without the aid of an alarm clock. Morning would approximately arrive, my eyes would magically pop open, and I'd be able to get out of bed at 6 or 7am without any feeling of pain or reluctance.
One reason I loved early mornings when I was young was that I'd have the whole house to myself, while the rest of my noisy family continued to slumber. It would be just me, my breakfast, and a goodly number of hours of uninterrupted cartoon time. Heaven.
As an added bonus, my mom didn't seem to care what I fed myself when I got up. Oh, sure, she had her own stern rules regarding dinner: good girls drink soup (my mother's people believe soup should have its own category in the food guide pyramid) and good girls eat lots of leafy green vegetables. However, breakfast was a freer time when girls, good and bad, could eat as they pleased, most likely cause mom was too tired to keep track. It was possibly the greatest thing about growing up in my house. I could nibble slowly on giant puff marshmallows interspersed with sips of milk, savoring the whole white-on-white scheme; I could scarf down countless Eggo Waffles so supersaturated with syrup the synonym that came to mind when one took a bite was "juicy"--the trick was to toast the waffles well enough that when you filled each hollow square to the brim with syrup, the waffles would hungrily suck up all the syrup like a sponge and require at least two or more refills; or I could microwave frozen mini chicken pies, as opposed to baking them, so that the crust would be all white and soggy...mmmm.
During those early years of morning concoctions, I learned some valuable lessons, and as always, I am more than happy to share my bounty of knowledge with all of you:
- Although melted cheese works quite nicely, liver pate is not a good topping for waffles; in fact, I might even be moved to use such harsh words as nauseating and inedible.
- Pizza Pops contain mechanically separated chicken (or at least they used to).
- There is actually a limit to how much extra chocolate one might melt in one's hot cocoa (disappointed by the anemic quality of Swiss Miss, I'd sought to create a darker, more chocolatey beverage, but soon became a tad overenthusiastic in my endeavor). The chocolate gets all sludgelike and clumps together at the bottom of the mug, while unsavory bubbles of oil rise to the surface.
- In Canada, "Bombay toast" is called "French toast!"
Perhaps you're thinking my mother let us kids run a bit amok, but I assure you she simply knew how to choose her battles, channeling her energy toward the areas she felt were really important, sometimes with the aid of a cane as backup. Not to fret--no revelations of child abuse here. But from what I can tell, it is a fact of life that Asian parents beat their children. Or at least they did when I was a kid. And in Singapore, the
In our house, there was an ominous umbrella stand in the coat closet filled with an assortment of canes that rattled happily against each other when jostled. The fatter ones could do more damage but the slender, more flexible canes whistled terrifyingly when rapidly whipped through the air.
We kids would often gather round to compare notes, and I assure you I was the object of no small amount of derision because mommy had only really whaled me once: I'd been six or seven and stubbornly objecting to the idea of doning a dress. I think I'd been a bit of a brat, and the confrontation with the dress finally drove mom over the edge. I recall bellowing like a deranged cow during the ordeal, not from the pain--though of course it hurt--so much as from the utter indignity of being beaten with a stick. I don't remember what happened after, but I'm quite sure I wore the dress.
I in fact had it extremely easy. My brothers, who were a little more mischievous, suffered far worse. And I have plenty of friends with downright chilling stories of their parents' own brand of punishment. Yet we've all since grown up to be fairly normal human beings, I guess. Heh.