Breakfast in America


Two months into a ketogenic diet and I’m feeling pretty good. Don’t worry, I won’t be prosthelytizing. Diets are something not to be mentioned in polite company. I detest even the thought of dieting, given that none has ever worked for me for any length of time and they generally make me feel miserable. Besides, I’m too much of a hedonist to give up my gastronomic pleasures. This diet, however, sounded manageable.

Keto is a diet composed primarily of fat and protein, cutting out all but a suspicion of carbohydrates. Out go the bread, pasta, potatoes, sweets, and a host of other things we might never consider as being particularly carb-heavy. Since I’ve never had much of a sweet tooth, I figured I’d give it a try. Hey, any diet in which pork rinds are an acceptable snack sounds good to me. And it’s been working—very slowly, but steadily. The best part is that I’m rarely hungry. But now I’m traveling in America.

This morning, walking into the breakfast room in my hotel, I was greeted by carbohydrate heaven. Few places outside the UK do breakfast consisting of anything more than coffee and a pastry. Here, among my choices were make-it-yourself Belgian waffles, English muffins, bagels, biscuits, sausages, porridge, Froot Loops, Honey-Nut Cheerios, yogurt, fruit, juice, and a smorgasbord of toppings. At first, I thought I would be virtuous and chose a small cheese omelette. But hey, I’m on vacation. The omelette was soon joined by an English muffin, a small bowl of porridge (with butter, try not to cringe) and another small bowl of Cheerios.

There is no doubt that within a day or so I will once again begin to look like the Stay Puft Marshmallow Woman. I’m not looking forward to that bloated feeling that carbs give me, but enjoying these rare pleasures for just the next 10 days is worth it.

The best part of this morning’s breakfast, however, was watching my fellow Americans go about making it. It reminded me of life on a commune. Everyone politely taking their turn, helping each other figure out the waffle iron, finding the ideal temperature on the toaster between barely warm and charcoal.

Living in Europe, I’ve forgotten how friendly we Americans can be. I’ve gotten used to most people ignoring me or only addressing me if it’s really necessary. Nothing like the easy conversation one can fall into while waiting for our waffles to emerge steaming and golden brown from the iron. People talked about their kids, their jobs, where they were coming from or going to. And upon leaving, many wished me a good onward journey, as though we had been friends for years.

With the amount of communication and cooperation evidenced in the breakfast room this morning, it’s not impossible to imagine that these same Americans could one day band together and oust the tyrants who are making a mockery of what the US has always supposedly stood for. Although not good for my waistline, in breakfast, there is hope.

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