Shuffling to the refrigerator early Saturday morning I opened the door and started rooting around thinking maybe I’d have a bowl of Wheaties. Images of what Bruce Jenner meant to me in 1976 when he won the gold in the decathlon swam in my head. Bruce, my hero, taught me that if I ate Wheaties (along with juice, toast and milk) I could be going for the gold too. My personal decathlon for that day was probably going to be a six-pack of Yuengling Lager, a maduro cigar and three episodes of Restaurant Impossible. Needing fuel for the journey to the couch, my attention focused to the bright interior of the fridge. No milk. Cold pizza. Leftover Thai. Hung over and discouraged I almost closed the door to settle on a granola bar and some french pressed coffee. Then it caught my eye.
Hiding behind the block of Locatelli Pecorino Romano, a jar of homemade moonshine and the brisket that I was thawing for the smoker was a small amount of beautiful, glorious, bone-white duck fat. Justifying to myself that duck fat has less saturated fat than butter (it’s true) I realized that I had an essential building block of a nutritious breakfast.”What to put with duck fat?”, I thought to myself. Digging deeper into the cavernous fridge past the OJ and iced tea, I spotted the prize, three chicken eggs. “Score!”
Now most people would take those eggs and make an omelet. Too easy. After all, I was going for the gold so I owed it to myself as a Chef to test my limits. I placed the egg carton on the counter next to the stove and scanned the kitchen cupboard for more ingredients. Basil? No. Bread? Yes, bread is good, Bruce Jenner and Count Chocula always had toast. Things were looking up. Maybe after this Championship breakfast I’d mow the lawn and wash and wax my car. More scanning. Apple? No. Dark Rum? Yes. Rum has 8 essential vitamins and minerals to get you to the finish line. Banana? Yes. Fruit is healthy. Bruce eats bananas on his Wheaties. Then it hit me. Bananas Foster’s french toast.
I scrambled two eggs furiously with a whisk and added nutmeg, a splash of cream, a pinch of salt and some cinnamon and sugar. Sweat beads formed on my forehead due to the vigorous work I was doing so early on a Saturday. Such is the life of an Olympian. Training is important. The extra effort felt good. Bruce Jenner would be proud of me. Eye of the Tiger was playing in my head.
I turned on 3 burners and filled a small pot with hot water and a bit of white vinegar. A poached egg would be amazing on top of my masterpiece. I grabbed two saute pans and put them on the front burners. Lump of butter on the left pan, duck fat on the right. I then dunked two pieces of multi-grain bread in the egg mixture and placed them in the duck fat pan. My wife Michelle called from upstairs, ” What smells so good?” I thought to myself, “What would Bruce say?”… I replied, “Just making some toast, Honey.” I sliced a ripe banana and placed it in the left saute’ pan… At this point I was actually singing Eye of the Tiger out loud. In the right pan I flipped the multi-grain bread without a spatula and caught them with the pan behind my back. Left pan sizzling, I flambeed the banana’s in some Dark rum and then added brown sugar, cinnamon and some lemon zest and vanilla bean when the flames died down. Heart pumping and endorphins pulsing through my veins I felt a slight cramp of lactic acid in my right bicep. Feel the burn. Finish strong.
“Why are you singing crappy 80’s movie music?”, Michelle barked. I snapped, ” No reason.” and focused my attention to cracking the last precious egg into the boiling water. If I broke the yolk, my breakfast would only get me the silver. I heard Bruce Jenner’s voice in my head. “Last chance for greatness my friend.”
I sliced the steaming french toast at a 45 degree angle and placed it on a plate, then slathered the bananas on top and garnished it with chopped walnuts. I gingerly picked up the fragile poached egg with a slotted spoon and placed it on top of the decadent french toast. I daydreamed about the ribbon I must cross to earn the gold. I saw the faces of all the important people in my life in slow motion. There’s my parents. There’s my daughter, Hannah. One last step, a pinch of black truffle salt on the egg and the Gold was mine.There’s my friends. There’s Bruce Jenner. They are cheering me on. I can’t wait to eat this. I see the ribbon. I think, “Maybe I’ll start running, workout, really get in shape.” There’s my wife standing in front of me in the kitchen. My daydream disintegrated in rum flames right before my eyes.
“Oh how nice that you made me breakfast!”, Michelle took the plate from my sweaty hand and proceeded to eat the whole thing “This is really good.”, she said with perfectly poached egg dripping down her chin. The distinct smell of duck fat hung in the air. “What are your plans today?”, she asked.
I opened the fridge and grabbed a slice of cold pizza and cracked open a beer and cursed on the way to the couch.
“There’s a Restaurant Impossible marathon on today.”, I muttered. “I’m not getting off this couch!”
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