I’m not, traditionally, a breakfast person. I can house a fry-up, but only when the occasion calls for it — say, hypothetically, an extra drink or six the night before — and, sure, I’ll dip into the pastry basket at a free hotel breakfast buffet, but generally less for nutrition than for the more sustaining satisfaction of maximizing the value of my hotel room.
For most of my day-to-day adult life, my regular breakfast has consisted of a black coffee. When I’m really hungry and need a big breakfast, I may even add milk.
It would be nice to say that this was part of a concerted dietary strategy, one of those trendy Silicon Valley intermittent-fasting plans that would strengthen my brain to the point where I could undertake feats of mental strength like differential calculus or being the C.E.O. of Twitter. Or that I just hated breakfast food.
But mostly it was a function of work. In a world with an economy entirely switched on, it’s hard not to roll out of bed and find yourself engaged in important productive work like sending emails, or answering emails, or avoiding sending or answering emails. Who has time for a bowl of oatmeal, let alone fried eggs and toast?
But now the economy has been turned off. I’m lucky enough to be working from home, but my meetings are less frequent and my commute nonexistent. Consequently, I have found myself rediscovering the simple joys of consuming an absolutely obscene number of calories before noon.
For the last few weeks, I’ve eaten a big breakfast every morning. Rashers of bacon! Buttery French omelets! Massive breakfast burritos! The heart wants what the heart wants. And sometimes what it wants is a kimchi grilled cheese at 10 a.m.
Freed from the work schedule, a more feral logic has taken hold in my apartment: Sleep when sleepy, eat when hungry, and make it salty and fatty if at all possible. My anxiety is not lessened, exactly, but it’s been transformed from daily workplace neurosis to existential background thrum. Spending an hour to make a tray of crispy potatoes for a big fry-up plate would have been inconceivable in the past, even on the weekend. In my current state, it seems like not enough time to spend making breakfast, really.
I understand that my obsession may seem stupid, or selfish, to anyone still obligated to commute for a job, or who just lost one, or who’s spent the last few years already making breakfast daily for kids.
I should clarify that the joy I find in my breakfast doesn’t really derive from the physical or mental health the breakfast inculcates within me or the peaceful morning hours I’m afforded to make it. If I had to pinpoint what makes my breakfasts so important to me, I don’t think I’d give a particularly philosophical answer. I think I would say that what gives me joy in breakfast is bacon fat.
It is hard to think of anything more narcotically comforting, outside of actual narcotics, than the smell and taste of bacon. And then: fry an egg in the drippings! Drizzle it over that pan of potatoes about to go into the oven! That kimchi grilled cheese would taste even better if it smacked of bacon, wouldn’t it? And doesn’t the addition of bacon make it, technically, a breakfast food?
Max Read is a writer and elastic-waisted-pants enthusiast.
Doodles by Tom Bodkin, Tom Jolly and Claire O’Neill.Tom Bodkin is the creative director and chief creative officer at The Times. Tom Jolly is an associate masthead editor who oversees production of the newspaper. Claire is the visual editor for Climate.