What exactly is the importance of breakfast to you? If you are asking me at this moment in time, someone who is getting ready for a wedding, it is the maximum amount of slow-burning nourishment I can possibly ingest while running up and down stairs trying to catch subways. I am currently having breakfast in the form of whey protein, chia seeds, flax seed powder, quick oats, peanut butter and coffee. (Blend all those together and you have a high-calorie, protein-packed shake that takes you to lunch and beyond.)
But let us assume that I had more than an hour in the morning to get myself sorted and out the door. What would breakfast be like?
This Saturday I had the pleasure of having the weekend off. I started my day early and ended up in my old stomping grounds. I knew exactly the place to relive what breakfast is all about. It goes without saying that when you find your favourite breakfast food, nothing else will ever be just as good (or feel as complete?). Regardless of how classy Tea service feels or how disgusting Oatmeal or Farina can be, nothing else matters when you have found your niche for this morning ritual.
Despite all the hustle and bustle, just off the Sheridan Red Line stop in Chicago’s Wrigleyville houses a dive that almost everyone ignores. You are able to ignore its existence until curiosity and bravery steps in, from then on out its simplicity keeps you coming back.
I am talking about Artemio’s Bakery on North Sheridan Road (via North Sheffield Avenue) and West Irving Park Road. I used to walk by this place every morning when I lived a street over and never thought to give it a chance then a friend of mine said that quintessential line, “Oh man, you have to try it out they have the best…”
The best Pan Dulce (Mexican Sweet Bread) I have ever had… EVER. Growing up in Los Angeles/Orange County immersed in Mexican cuisine and culture, I feel I do know what I am talking about to some degree here. I have never had a Concha so flavourful, so soft and moist, so anything noteworthy of something outside of baked bread with some sugar on top. Their cheese danishes are not overly sweet and nor is the cheese filling too “cream-cheesy”. The ever-so-common Palmiers (Elephant Ear Cookies) that at one point in time I, in a fatter form of myself, could not stop inhaling. Their Palmiers were absolutely perfect for a cup of unsweetened coffee or tea for balance. The list at Artemio’s goes on and on… if only I knew what other breads were called apart from “those things with the thing inside!” from trial and error testing.
Tangentially speaking, this is what I enjoyed about breakfast; the song and dance of being able to pick your pastry from a shop and take it home with you to have with coffee from your favourite mug at the table. It is almost therapeutic to experience the morning calm immersed in your own thoughts… with your hand-picked breakfast. It is a great way to start the morning and we so easily allow ourselves to get away from these simple pleasures. Simple pleasures that need time. Take the time for breakfast, it the best morning pep talk you could ever give yourself.