Sunday mornings are sacred to John and me, yet not for the reason that immediately comes to mind. We’re not churchgoers. What we are, instead, are freaks about big Sunday breakfasts. Religiously so, you might say. We look forward to our weekly repast of omelets or French toast or pancakes, coffee and tea and fruit smoothies while perusing the Seattle Times from front page to funnies all snug and warm in our jammies.
We vary from our ritual only begrudgingly, so when neighbors invited us to breakfast one Sunday morning before they were scheduled to head back to their second home in California, we were stumped. We could think of no excuse to decline. Not even a little white lie would work. We live across the street from them and if we were to claim we had other plans, we’d have to leave the house — meaning we’d miss our cherished Sunday morning jammies breakfast, regardless, thus defeating the purpose of trying to salvage it in the first place.
We’ve briefly considered postponing our Sunday routine to Monday in cases like this, but truth is, it’s simply not the same. It’s the newspaper. Sunday’s issue includes the travel section, NW Arts & Life, the extended comics page in color, the New York Times AND Merl Reagle’s Sunday crossword puzzles, and the Pacific NW Magazine. Monday’s paper, on the other hand, is flimsy. Lifeless. Exhausted, no doubt, after the robustness of Sunday’s offering. There’s no enjoying a leisurely breakfast over such a lackluster rag. It’s Sunday’s paper, or nothing.
A day or two after accepting our neighbors’ kind yet mortifying invitation, we were hit with a second bombshell: the event’s venue had changed. The meal had been sabotaged by mutual acquaintances — boat owners who, for some reason, decided it would be more fun to eat in the galley of their fishing vessel.
Granted, these people have a fine, fine boat. Beautiful, really, all shiny brass and teak inside. But the Queen Mary, it ain’t. Squeezing six breakfast guests into the eating quarters was cozy, to say the least, forcing the owners of the craft to remain standing in the tiny kitchen space. Plus, in order to quell the threat of a claustrophobic episode from any of the diners crammed inside, the ship’s owners left the hatch open. It was cold in there, an atmospheric condition that no amount of instant coffee was going to offset.
You know what was weirdest of all? We never left port. Eight of us huddled inside that boat, tied securely to the dock, for two long hours. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m a firm believer that the relative discomfort of serving a meal inside a ship’s galley makes sense only when you’ve actually traversed water.
Sitting in the fishing boat, balancing my plate of breakfast taco (I dared wrestle with only one), I looked around the galley and focused briefly on each couple, imagining how much more agreeable it would have been in any one of their warm, comfy kitchens. We all live mere blocks from each other, at the farthest, and only a two-minute drive from the neighborhood marina where we were being held hostage on that damn boat. Ahoy matey, this is asinine.
To atone for the heartbreak of missing one of our Sunday services, so to speak, the following week we did it up big. Or I should say, did it up pig.
At the store where John works, they give their past-prime produce and vegetable trimmings to a local hog farmer who in turn occasionally brings them a freshly processed pig. Normally we don’t partake in piggie, but John knows I’m a sucker for bacon. I mean, c’mon, who isn’t? And because this hog farmer raises his animals the way it’s supposed to be done, John brought home a slab of bacon as a Sunday surprise.
I haven’t attempted to cook pork of any fashion in years. This time, not only did I burn it to a crisp in the pan, we then stuck the four pieces in the convection oven to keep them warm while we prepared the remainder of our breakfast.
We hadn’t noticed the oven was set at 450 degrees. When we opened it to retrieve our special treat, we were faced with four shriveled ribbons of dried pork briquettes.
They were delicious.
And best of all, we didn’t have to eat them on a boat.