Country church breakfast vs. city church breakfast

  • Posted: Monday, January 7, 2013 1:18 a.m.
    UPDATED: Monday, January 7, 2013 6:08 a.m.

Some time ago, I attended the men’s breakfast held one Saturday every month at the downtown church in Danville where I am a member. I noticed a great difference in the form of that breakfast’s serving from the form in which breakfast was served at a country church to which I had belonged in Caswell County, prior to my Danville move.

Instead of the separate serving platters at the country church: one for eggs, one for bacon, one for sausage, and one for country ham; breakfast items in the city church were served in a large, deep rectangular container in which all of those previously mentioned and separate foods had been quiched. The gentleman doing the serving of the quiche was cutting it like peat in a peat bog, placing a block on each partaker’s plate. It was as if the main ingredients of the breakfast from the country had become some “citified” amalgamation upon entering the municipal limits.

There were biscuits, however, and a biscuit is still a biscuit, unless you find yourself in England and it looks more like a cracker. Close by those Southern biscuits were some blocks of real butter, just as with the country church, but next to them on that urban table were several squeeze bottles of “I Can’t believe It’s Not Real Butter!” I don’t share that particular sentiment, leading my paraphrasing of that doubtful viewpoint into one more credulous, instead stating: “I can believe it’s not real butter!”

A breakfast quiche takes wonderful, unadulterated flavors and then adulterates each with the others. Years ago, when President Reagan’s bowl of Jelly Bellys was featured on the evening news, faithful Republicans (and probably some Democrats too) made sure to always have a bowl of them on hand for the enjoyment of both guest and host. Just as with my preference for the individuality of breakfast’s components, I never enjoyed liberally consuming a handful of some of the many flavors of President Reagan’s favorite candy all at once, preferring instead, to conservatively savor the individual flavor of each. (One favorite was pina colada.)

The country church’s closest approach to breakfast quiche was scrambled eggs with cheese. They knew that to venture further was risky. My father would sometimes fix scrambled eggs with pork brains (“brains n’ eggs”) for us when I was growing up, something other people my age (going on 62) or older may remember eating as well. “Brains n’ eggs” tasted great, but the looks of it didn’t achieve the level of its taste. Back then, I would probably have appreciated those brains’ further quiching with something else, just for disguise.

Fortunately, in his scrambling, my father so mixed and mashed the eggs and brains that at the breakfast table I wasn’t treated to the disturbing sight of something “brain-like,” with its characteristic wrinkle, or convolution (even for those simple things which a pig does to while away its days, a little bit of cerebral “folding” is still required).

A month later, I received a reminder card in the mail concerning the next men’s breakfast at the downtown church (equally referred to as uptown), but decided to stay home and cook my eggs, bacon, sausage and country ham, savoring each in its separateness (before you start wondering about my cholesterol, I only cook breakfast like this once in a blue moon, usually only consuming a pack of instant grits or oatmeal.

Not long ago, mention was made in the church bulletin about the annual church Christmas breakfast, held on the Sunday morning prior to Christmas Day. This is not just for the men, but for all members of the congregation. Fearing the worst, I purposefully stayed away that morning, only coming in at the time the choir warms up for the service, since I belong to the choir. I asked another choir member if she had attended the breakfast, and she excitedly said “Yes!” and added, “You missed a treat!” Getting my hopes up, I eagerly awaited the list of gastronomic delights which I thought would follow. Almost beside herself, the alto announced: “There were biscuits (so far, so good) and eight different kinds of breakfast quiche!”

Hearing this, I knew that I had made the right decision, both my fear and my absence having been justified.

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