Breakfast for One

Breakfast for One

I was a bedside nurse for a few years after graduation. I chose to work the night shift as it gave me every second weekend off instead of every third, as was the case for day shift nurses. The graveyard shift did not suit me. The nights felt long when everyone slept. The darkness spooked me and I sought refuge in the nursing office where bright lights and the company of my workmates dispelled the gloominess.

Most mornings, I just wanted to go to bed and hurried home. Other times, when I felt more awake and eager for something to do, I treated myself to breakfast at Ogilvy’s. Ogilvy’s was a high-end department store at the corner of Rideau and Nicholas streets in Ottawa. It was a downtown fixture for over a hundred years until changes in the retail world forced its closure.

Its clothing selections appeared sedate to my young eyes. However, it was known as the place to go if you wanted a cocktail dress or something proper to wear for a special occasion.

I had no money to spend on expensive clothes and confined my outings to browsing the racks. But I enjoyed their cafeteria. It opened at seven every morning and did a brisk trade with the breakfast crowd. For fifty cents, I could get two eggs, bacon, hash browns and toast. Unaccustomed as I was to eating out, this simple outing always felt like a treat. I liked my eggs over easy but my middling English did not include that expression. Every time, I explained how I wanted the eggs turned and cooked until the white turned opaque but retained a soft yolk. The waitress always waited for me to finish explaining and never mentioned the simple expression that would have put an end to my convoluted explanations.

I savoured every mouthful of this simple breakfast. Hash browns were made from scratch in those days and reminded me of my mother’s, crispy at the edges and studded with onion. The bacon was crisp and salty, and the eggs always cooked to my liking.

These simple meals gave rise to my abiding love for breakfast food, regardless of the time of day. I keep looking for places that serve excellent morning food. Even when cooking at home, there is something special about eating breakfast at 11:30, with a full spread of goodies to choose from. Entertaining for brunch is simpler than a nighttime meal and a lovely way to while away an afternoon.

Treat yourself to the following recipes: 

Oatmeal Delights

Spanish Tortilla

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