Breakfast: A Most Treasured Meal Of The DayFri 18 Jul 2014
Story by Amanda G. Barillas
Sunday mornings in the Barillas household always start the same. It’s usually the one day in the week all ten family members (two parents and six kids…and two dogs), are in the house, probably hoping to snag a few more hours of sleep. At about 10 o’clock, the youngest three boys clamber out of bed and head downstairs, “clamber” being the operative word as they make enough noise to wake up our parents, who in turn wake up the rest of us, and the show begins.
Once everyone is in the kitchen, the Food Network is put on the TV, and a quick but crucial decision is made: What’s for breakfast?
My dad pulls out the electric whisk. “Who wants omelettes?” He asks this, but the answer is usually: everyone. And he knows not only that, but how everyone likes it done: Carlo goes with the flow, Pablo loves a lot of onions, Marcelo likes it plain, you can honestly put whatever you want in Gabi’s (mine), and Dani loves her veggies. And Alejandro? He’ll have his scrambled eggs, very lightly salted. Though this might seem plain, at nine years old, his palate is just starting to develop.
Once the omelettes are set, the whisk travels to a bowl of egg whites, ready to be fluffed for the ultimate waffle batter; we treasure this treat at the end of the weekend, and the best part is heating up the maple syrup with banana slices and walnuts.
Breakfast wouldn’t be complete without a fruit salad! Brilliant berries, citrusy orange, and tender melon meld in a bowl after my sister prepares them, slicing them if necessary into bite sized pieces. Mom might toss in a few kiwis, and if there’s watermelon, she leaves large slices and places them neatly on a plate to enjoy while we wait for the hot food.
My little brothers set the table, placemats, napkins, and utensils placed neatly to accommodate the load of deliciousness that is about to arrive. The six Barillas kids sit down, the older sisters ladling fruit salad onto their brother’s plates, while Mom and Dad arrive with hot omelettes fresh from the skillet, and crispy waffles.
And a little touch of home? Black refried beans and tortillas make a short appearance, as they are one of the most coveted parts of breakfast in my home; they hit the table and are gone in a flash! Dad, since he is left to finish making the waffles, seldom arrives to the table in time to enjoy them, but it is because of him that we enjoy them: a hint of El Salvador is on our table on Sundays.
Homemade tortillas, just like my mom’s pińa coladas that we might enjoy in the afternoon, are a treasure, and I’m speaking as a college kid that goes to school away from home: they are sorely missed!
My mom arrives at the table last, after getting a small head start on the dishwashing that I will surely have to finish, with a hot cup of coffee and enjoys a waffle with some fresh strawberries and syrup. As I sit closest to her at the table, conversation begins with school, plans for the day (are we hitting a beach town? Staying home to finish school work? Going out for dinner?). Though the conversations begin split, eventually we all come together, united by a story about something from school, a movie we recently saw, or the latest viral video on Youtube.
Breakfast means the start of the day; it’s a time for my family to get energized to jump in the pool, go play soccer, go for a walk in town. For a couple hours in the week, we are in the same house with no rush, no need to be anywhere. It’s just my family and food. My parents believe in balance, and so this meal is good for the body as much as the soul.
If there is anything I strongly recommend, it is sitting around a table for good, healthy meals as a family, especially breakfast. You’d be surprised the stories you hear even though the day hasn’t started. You might find yourself laughing till you cry, you might even find yourself learning something new.
Food is meant to be shared, and treasured. And there is nothing like sharing food with your family. You don’t need a large number: it could be baking a quick batch of cookies with your sister, and sitting down with a glass of milk once they’ve cooled to talk about movies. It could be a trip to the supermarket with your mom and getting getting all the ingredients for an All-American apple pie (from scratch!). It could even be grabbing a few dorm-mates and hosting a potluck dinner in the living room.
I’ve learned a lot about how food can bring people together from growing up in my household; and I strive daily to carry that feeling with me wherever I go, whether I’m in Boston, studying, in London, studying abroad, or at home in Puerto Rico, surrounded by all those people I not only share amazing Sunday breakfasts with, but share my life with, cooking one delicious meal at a time together in our kitchen on the island of Puerto Rico.
About the author: Amanda G. Barillas, from Chicago, IL, is a rising senior at Boston University, studying Public Relations with minors in Business and Psychology. She aspires to use public speaking and writing in the culinary world; Speaking, writing, and food have been her lifelong passions, and she hopes to put them all to use in her career as a PR professional. You can follow her on Twitter (@agbarillas).
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