Beans for Breakfast

garbanzos 0419Every Sunday a group of us gathers for a late breakfast and to set the world straight, which takes about two hours. Well, the food portion. Straightening the world out can clearly be done in a matter of minutes.

I don’t remember how long this has gone on, but it’s been awhile. In the Before Lynn time, I would go out every Sunday by myself, to a place that is still a restaurant but not the same restaurant — no breakfast. Then Lynn arrived, and the two of us ate out Sunday mornings. Then we invited a friend who was going through a rough patch (who, oddly enough, never joins us anymore — other obligations on Sunday mornings, I guess), and one friend became two became four, and now there are usually 10-12 of us.

This used to be easy: we went to the restaurant in town with the largest floor space, and tables ranging from four-tops to easy space for 12. And it could accommodate several large groups at once, so there was rarely ever a wait.

But breakfast was wearing the proprietors out, and even though it was likely their most lucrative meal of the three they served daily, on weekends at least, that’s the part they chose to cut out of their work day.

It left a large number of regulars, particularly groups the size of ours, in a bind. There are only two other cafe-type breakfast places in town, and neither one of them is particularly set up for groups of more than four. Waits are long, and if you’re a large group, you could find yourself waiting all day.

We have ended up, by default, at the Firebrand. Which sounds bad, that we’re there by default, and it shouldn’t, because the two sisters who own and operate the Firebrand are very personable, and the food is good. It’s just not bacon, eggs and hash browns, which is my idea of a hearty, if not healthy, Sunday breakfast.

But it is the one place in town where I have, on occasion, eaten a garbanzo bean or two for breakfast.

That’s because the Firebrand is a delicatessen, its menu awash in sandwiches and soups. The sandwiches are quite generous: most members of our Sunday group who order one end up taking half home for a later meal. The sandwiches come with a pile of tortilla chips, a pickle slice, and a side of salsa, coleslaw, potato salad or pasta salad. The pasta salad includes garbanzo beans.

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I’m not about to waste it on the likes of a sandwich, but I will order, alongside my breakfast, the pasta or potato salad. So there you go: garbanzo beans for breakfast.

The breakfast menu is rather limited, but whenever I think about launching that as a complaint against our venue, I need to remember to laugh at myself. Because if I went to either of the other restaurants on the same side of the street in the same first block of Main Street, out of their entire menu, I order one thing: eggs over medium with bacon, hash browns (or home fries) and toast.

If it’s not busy and I ask nicely enough, I can get a fried egg or two at the Firebrand. And they do have breakfast potatoes, although they come laced with green peppers and onions that don’t play well with my stomach, which traffics most frequently in “bland.” Their waffles are quite good, and large, and the egg sandwich is all right. But that’s it for the breakfast menu. And I just can’t quite come up with a combination that says “proper Sunday breakfast” to me. Even with a pasta salad on the side.

And if it were just me, it would be a personal problem, but I notice that when our numbers thin down for a week, those who are left are quick to suggest one of the other two breakfast places. It’s just hard to beat a cafe for Sunday breakfast.

[I would be remiss if I missed mentioning the fourth breakfast establishment, much farther up Main Street. It offers a brunch buffet, and several large tables, but the price, which is set to cover the “all you can eat,” even at the senior rate, does not really work for a group where many of us who aren’t me just don’t eat that much.]

So the Firebrand it is, and at least the name is in line with our social agitations over the State of the World. And it is much easier to converse there than at the other two restaurants, where if you shout really loud, the person directly across from you might be able to hear.

And really, the point of the morning should supersede the food. It’s about gathering with friends, fellowship without the pews, if you will, solving all the problems of the world in a few short minutes — why won’t the world just listen to us? We catch up with everyone’s week, commiserate our lows, celebrate our highs. We are people filled with beans, eager to spill them to one another.

So why not the Firebrand? That’s where we’re going today, anyway, with an almost full complement (Carol, come home!), plus a bonus guest or two. Our conversational cups will runneth over. There may even be a garbanzo bean or two on the menu.

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