Breakfast Memories

Brace yourself, people. Last night, I was spending a rare moment in front of the telly when what would flash before my dazed eyes but the music video of Paula Abdul singing Rush, Rush and prancing around an extremely-dopey-looking-even-for-him Keanu Reeves. Sorry, Keanu fans; if it's any consolation, at the time this video came out, I was about 12 and had a mondo crush on Mr. Reeves myself. But the whole thing--Paula crooning and prancing, Keanu flipping his floppy hair about and sounding very circa Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure--was too much, and now I'm totally in...a nostalgic mood. Ack, and I can't fight this feeling anymore!

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 weapon disciplinary tool of choice was the cane--a long, polished (wouldn't want it splintering--yow) bamboo pole, which struck fear into the hearts, and welts into the buttocks, of many children.

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.

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"When one is caught up in nostalgia, one's thoughts naturally turn to breakfast" ?? You topped waffles with liver pate? I don't think I even touched that stuff until I was in my late twenties. You were a strange kid!

BTW, my parents' choice of punishment is to have me stand in a corner for hours on end (or at least it felt like hours). 

from Lynn

5/10/2005 03:05:00 AM  

When I was a kid, one of my favourite breakfasts was a paste of cornstarch cooked with water to which I added about 1/2 can on sweetened condensed milk. Heaven!

Have not tried the concotion after growing up. I'm afraid I'd be disappointed so I'd rather keep the old memories. 

from Ana

5/10/2005 10:21:00 AM  

Hey this is fun! Anyone reading this, I want to hear all your childhood breakfast/punishment stories!

Lynn, sorry, I was being annoyingly facetious with the "one's thoughts naturally turn to breakfast" comment. Yes, liver pate and I go way back, though sadly I don't recall how we were first introduced--but I do so love it and am determined to try making my own...soon.
I had a moment of utter disbelief, trying to imagine (a) you being a naughty kid, and (b) you having to stand in the corner. Hey, did your parents ever do the "rub your mouth with chilli" punishment? That's another popular one in Singapore and is probably partly responsible for why people are such chilli freaks in that country.

Ana, your breakfast concoction sounds extremely creative--though I don't really blame you for hesitating to recreate the memory. I too was a big fan of condensed milk when I was a kid. Have you ever heard of Rabbit candies? It's like chewy little pieces of condensed milk--yummy. 

from Rachel

5/10/2005 06:23:00 PM  

Mmmmmm, rabbit candies, I remember smugling those yo camp when I was a kid...I stuffed them inside a puppet teddy bear. 

from Jaime

5/10/2005 11:02:00 PM  

Uhhh, no, my parents never had me rub chilli on my mouth, but I did use chilli as a deterrant on my dog Jack, only to find out that being a Singaporean dog, he LOVED chilli!

On being naughty, my parents' definition is very broad, including not getting perfect scores on a test. See what kind of pressure I had to live under? 

from Lynn

5/11/2005 07:09:00 AM  

Wow. Liver pate on waffles...quite an interesting image. ^_^ But I totally understand what you mean by the freedom of breakfast time. There're so many good stuff to eat. One of my favourites was lightly buttered and pan fried toast smothered with condensed milk. Oh the sweetness! I also ate a lot of junk at times like cheese and crackers or chocolate chip cookies.
Recently, I've found myself getting up before my alarm clock rings. I get up as early as 7 and no later than 9. I don't know why...this didn't happen when it was winter...=/
One of the punishments from my childhood that I got often was the threat to flick my nose. I guess I didn't like any amount of pain, no matter how small it was. I almost got "caned" twice but I don't remember if it was actually carried through. Once it was with the back of a feather duster and once with a plastic clothes hanger. I've also been threatened with a belt. o_O; 

from Tea

5/11/2005 01:29:00 PM  

Ha Rachel I was slightly unsteadied by the giant puff marshmallows and by the time I got to the liver pate and bubbles of oil I felt positively ill. It brought back memories of the first "cooked" breakfast I was forced to eat at the unholy hour of 5 something a.m. on the first day of primary school, something vile like a soft boiled egg or something which I promptly and very unsavourily ejected back into the world. I guess I'm still not a breakfast person, even conceptually. Stomachs need time to wake up too.


from iain

5/12/2005 12:41:00 AM  

I blame rabbit sweets for making me think that all candy wrappers were edible. 

from Anonymous

5/12/2005 12:46:00 AM  

Jaime, did you have those white rabbit candies too in England?

Oh, Lynn, that's so sad that you were punished just for not getting a good grade. I bet you were a pretty good kid overall. But my dad would look at the situation and go, "Yes, but now Lynn's a pharmacist, while you are...?"

Tea, are you still waking up at disturbing hours? Oh yeah--we might have had a full array of canes, but my parents were not above using belts and clothing hangers on my brothers.

Iain, sorry (but also perversely pleased) that I grossed you out! I sense however that you've a rather delicate stomach--soft boiled eggs are vile, huh? I know a lot of people who aren't breakfast people and it makes me a bit sad because I enjoy breakfast so much.

Anon., ha, yes, I've eaten my share of non-edible paper wrappers too. I wonder what was with that little rice paper film--absolutely no purpose that I can think of except that it was fun as a kid to creep out my friends, going, "Look, I'm going to eat the wrapper." 

from Rachel

5/13/2005 02:14:00 PM  

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