I didn’t have breakfast with my grandparents too often. They got up at 5:30 every morning. My grandpa had to open the store in Glen Ellyn. But if I was there and didn’t mind eating in the darkness before dawn, my grandma would whip up one of those balanced breakfasts that they were always saying cereal was a part of on television.
Cereal was the opening course. My grandma kept the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes in the refrigerator. They were crisp and cold and terrific with a spoon of sugar on top and bathed in whole milk. Orange juice was served in small glasses, not much bigger than a shot. I didn’t drink coffee, but my Grandma would open the can of Folgers (also kept in the refrigerator) and let me smell it before she filled the tin coffeepot on the stove. About this time, the water in the kettle would announce it had come to a boil. She’d pour it in and serve my grandpa a steaming cup on a saucer, complete with sugar and milk.
That kept us busy as Grandma slipped a tall pile of Roman Meal wheat toast onto the table with a saddle shaped lump of butter. Grandpa didn’t slice the butter from the side, but rather scraped the top with a serrated steak knife. Small curlicues of butter would melt evenly across the surface of the bread. Next up was a plate of bacon, crisp. There is a fine line between crisp bacon and burnt bacon. When we’d go out with Grandma, she would fight with waitresses over this point. Her bacon was crisp to the point of being dry, but never burnt. It crumbled in your mouth. Grandma would use the grease from the bacon to cook up the eggs, whipping them with a fork as she went. The frying pan was close to glowing red by this time. It seemed like only an instant would pass and there were plates of “scrambled eggs” set down in front of us.
Almost as good as eating, was watching Grandma work her way around her kitchen. Everything was in its place. Everything went like clockwork. It was like watching a choreographed ballet, set to the news commentary from the table radio in the living room. The pattern had not changed in more than forty years and she worked so fast, she was almost a blur at times. She managed to sit down and eat with us before the Corn Flakes got soggy. And Grandma was already up and washing dishes by the time Grandpa and I cleaned our plates with the last bite of toast.