The Fish
for 12 September 2000. Updated every WEEKDAY.
[Suck Staff]

[Tim Cavanaugh]
Tim Cavanaugh
Special Guest Editor


[Terry Colon]
Terry Colon
Art Director


[Heather Havrilesky]
Heather Havrilesky
Senior Editor


[Phillip Bailey]
Phillip Bailey
Production Editor


[Joey Anuff]
Joey Anuff

[Go to the Suck Alumni page]
Kiss My Grits

Dear 40th Street Black,

What a bravura take on breakfast! I recognized your inimitable style even before I got to the end of the column. Right now, my wife is visiting her family in Germany, but I'm going to save this for her delectation when she returns next week. Have a great day!

Best wishes,

Dave Clayton

Thanks, Dave. I appreciate your note. "Recognized your inimitable style" is a much, much nicer way of saying "I counted 27 semi-colons by Terry's third illustration." Hope your wife returns soon and safely, although the mind reels thinking of what kind of homecooked breakfasts she may be enjoying in Germany.


40th Street Black

[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Dear 40th Street Black,

Thanks for the reply. FYI, the German equivalent of a farm breakfast is called a Bauernfrühstück. How's that for a nice German tongue-twister? But it--the breakfast, not the word--is only for holidays or big family gatherings. The usual breakfast is the typical "continental" one: unsweetened rolls called Brötchen, jam, yogurt, cheese--and possibly cold cuts (Aufschnitt) if it's on a weekend. And, of course, lots of coffee. But I will admit that the Germans can really lay it on, especially during the Christmas season. The last winter before we returned here to San Diego, in 1976, before the Wiedervereiningung, we visited Ruth's relatives in East Germany. He father was born and grew up in a small town called Scheibenberg just a few miles from the Czech border, in the Erzgebirge, the ore region where the first "real" dollar was produced--the word dollar is just a corruption of thaler which in turn comes from Joachimsthal where the mint was located. Rudolf, my father-in-law ended up in the West after the war, but almost all of his family remained in the German Democratic Republic, so-called.

We were fed from sunup until late at night, and unfortunately the fare was very heavy and greasy. Ruth suffered from constipation as a result, and to make matters worse, there was no flush plumbing in the apartment where her aunt lived and where we stayed--nor, as far, as I could tell was there flush plumbing anywhere else in Scheibenberg. It was 20 degrees below Celsius, and the beaker of water you were supposed to pour down the toilet after using it was always frozen. One night I awoke from dreaming I was in a public restroom and realized why--there was a pervasive odor of urine from the head just around the corner from our bedroom.

Ruth told me the eating had always been that way when she went to Scheibenberg, even in the bad days of the 1950's. This reminded me of a fascinating story I had heard many years ago from a friend of my parents who had grown up on a farm in Missouri. She said that during the Depression, at family banquets, people would put everything on the table. Apparently it was a gesture of defiance--like a potlatch--to show that the family members weren't starving and could afford to use up a lot of food, however impractical the idea may have been. I think something quite similar was operating with Rudolf's relatives: It was the East wanting to show the West they were still able set a great table.

Best wishes,

Dave Clayton

Thanks for the stories, Dave. Putting all the food on the table when the family might very well starve sounds a lot like getting a VP job at a internet start-up and buying a Range Rover in the first week.

Actually, it's not like that at all. But thanks again for writing.

Sincerely, for once, believe it or not,


[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Dear 2x20:

"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day." Says who? No real research shows any such thing. What's more, it's obviously not true, or so many cultures wouldn't completely ignore it. Fortunately, you have provided a hook for one of my favorite stories:

Ten years ago or so, I am driving west from Lubbock, TX...which is to say, I am driving from nowhere to nowhere through nothing. I have been up since dawn and have had no breakfast. I stop at a wide place in the road called, so help me, Muleshoe, TX. I find a little cafe. Inside, there's a roll of flypaper hanging from the ceiling, a ceiling fan not doing much, a few tables, and a counter behind which a waitress is talking to two locals.

I order what you order in place like that: coffee, grits, and biscuits with gravy. The biscuits with sausage gravy are home made, unbelievably delicious, and the entire meal has enough cholesterol to stop the arteries of an alcoholic. Never mind. I eat my breakfast and listen to the desultory conversation at the counter.

The two locals are the most unmatched pair in history. One guy looks like a jockey who has been worked hard and put away wet. He can't be 5 feet tall or weight 90 pounds and is all leathery skin and tendons. The other guy is a good 300 pounds and is wearing nothing but a pair of coveralls and work shirt, just coveralls.

They are killing time, drinking black coffee, and talking to the waitress. What are they talking about? They're evaluating the relative yields of T-bills.

There are no hicks anymore. Believe it.

Alan Kornheiser

Hi, Alan:

That's a great story, even better if it means Jeff Foxworthy becomes this generation's Foster Brooks.


40th Street Black

[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]
Kiss My Grits

Dear 40th,

My mother and I believe you have a drinking problem.

Want some eggs?


I appreciate your concern, but I'll pass. If I learned anything as a Matt Dillon-style drunk suburban teen, it was to avoid eating anything that's difficult to clean off of your steering wheel.

40th Street Black

[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

Best breakfast I ever had: One traditional Irish breakfast in Bethlehem, Penn., during the city's lovely Musikfest.

Best breakfast I've had recently: A very creative meal at a place called Eggspectations in Montreal last month. The place had almost a half-hour wait (40 minutes Canadian) on a Sunday afternoon, with good reason.

Why make these observations? Simple: I live in a city with no breakfast places that do anything for me. Probably nothing particularly motivating within an hour or two of me. BUT I remember breakfasts like the above places (the Towne Restaurant in Buffalo merits a mention, too) and even breakfast experiences in nondescript second-rate breakfast houses more vividly than any dinner I've ever had.

Certainly this must mean something, but what it's really doing is making me want a bacon and cheddar omelet. Mmmm, hot grease.

Nice piece!

Tim Nekritz

My memory of living in Pennsylvania is that the only thing more startling than the number of breakfast joints was the size of the grocery store meat counters, but it's been a few years. And I wish I had written something about the Sunday Morning Brunch Wait - that first important relationship test.

40th Street Black

P.S. — With a name like Eggspectations, breakfast better be creative...

[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

I have two specific comments on your breakfast column:

1) How could you write a purported socio-culinary analysis of breakfast qua breakfast without at least mentioning Hunter S. Thompson's oft-cited, prescriptive love for (and obsessive over-design of) that meal?

2) "Endow with" or "bestow upon" — not "endow upon."

Overall, I found it kind of sloppy, and lacking in the promised nutritional content, but still enjoyable; like a nostalgia-prompted serving of Lucky Charms.

Ted Blanchard

1. I didn't think of it, not once, until you mentioned it just now. Considering I've used Thompson twice now to support entire paragraphs in previous Suck essays, I consider this an opportunity lost.

2. Sorry about that - the word "endow" makes me nervous.

And it's not fair to make better use of the language than I did. I'll endeavor to make future meals more satisfying, although being compared to Lucky Charms is a good thing. In fact, being compared to any cereal is fine with me - except Sugar Smacks, because Sugar Smacks makes your urine smell funny.

Thanks for reading, and your note.


40th Street Black

[Mr. McFeely Speedy Delivery My Ass]

 The Shit
Krushchev Remembers, by Nikita Krushchev (authorship disputed), translated by Strobe Talbott
Five-Star Day Cafe
Athens, Ga.
Salon's "Action Figures"
TV ad
Donna's Famous "Long and Short of It," by Donna Anderson and friends
Two-Lane Blacktop, directed by Monte Hellman (The Anchor Bay/Universal letterboxed edition)
George Bush, Dark Prince of Love: A Presidential Romance, by Lydia Millet (Scribner)
King Kong: The Complete 1933 Film Score, by Max Steiner Moscow Symphony Orchestra, William J. Stromberg conductor (Marco Polo)
Eightball #20, by Dan Clowes (Fantagraphics Books)
The ECW's Little Spike Dudley
Stan Kenton, City of Glass, featuring arrangements by legendary weirdo Bob Graettinger (EMD/Blue Note)
Comix 2000, Edited and published by L'Association, 2000
Star Dudes
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