Confessions of a Breadboard Addict - The Breadboard
“Call me Ahmed.” That’s what the young man said when he joined his family on the deck at the Breadboard after 6 months of torturous awesome food abstinence while he was away in Eugene. He was like a conscriptee returning from the Russian front. 6 months of no country gravy, no Breadboard omelets, no Breadboard Huevos Rancheros, no Kristal’s Killer Chicken Sandwich… tribulation… torture… A beautiful sunny day on the deck and the little sister said, “who’s Ahmed?” To which the prideful young man said, “not being a lit major like me, I wouldn’t expect you to recognize the most famous opening line in literary history. “ To which, she replied, “if you’re referring to Moby Dick, that would be “Call me Ishmael” and contrary to popular belief, it’s not the opening line of the novel, so I’m not impressed.” Then the scholarly duck said, “I heard you let my bird die while I was in Eugene because you didn’t give it enough water” -and they had just seen each other for the first time in 6 months and were already going at it, but the mom intervened and said it was time to order because the amazing yumminess of Breadboard bacon always brings peace and everyone agreed and the server started describing the special frittata for that day, then the girl whispered to the mom, “birds drink water?” And the mom sighed, “Maman died today” and the scholarly duck said, good one ’etranger! And the lil’ sis said, “ touché” Camus! High fives all around as the smell of better not bitter Goodbean fresh roasted coffee and grilling bacon filled the morning air and everyone settled into a state of pavlovian breathless anticipation as each ordered their favorite dish.
Graduation time again and the conversations at the Breadboard can start to get kind of weird. A gaggle of recent grizz grads were sitting on the deck the other morning and it started to turn into a kind of mad hatter tea party moment as the conversations left the parents behind and the recent milestone achievers disappeared down the rabbit hole. The conversation that set the party in motion was a heated discussion about Le Grand K losing its special status as the international prototype kilogram and that by tying the kilogram to the Planck constant, which is based on unchanging natural properties, a much higher degree of metric accuracy can be achieved. One dad tried to participate by saying that the kid that would be going to MIT wouldn’t be able to find enough kilos of awesome country gravy anywhere on the East coast which he thought was pretty clever but everyone ignored him while a philosophical fidgety bespectacled teen scholar started lecturing about how Argentinian literature and science fiction could explain the whole capitalist based marketing system most people call higher education was really just a manifestation of Enders Game phenomena and then one of the moms piped in that she remembers that when she completed high school she was one degree hotter and no one got it except her husband who said she was plenty hot before she got her degree and they both cracked up but everyone still had no idea what Argentinian literature had to do with anything but it reminded one of the little Helman dragons who clawed his way into the conversation by bemoaning that talking about Argentina had thrown him into a chaotic chasm of indecision because he couldn’t choose between the breakfast burrito, the Huevos Rancheros or the Ole’ Omelet and then a cute sevenish little girl chirped “question the coach and argue with the referee!” Just then, a dapper older gentleman wobbled by and reminded everyone that no matter where you go there you are – to which the server that had just appeared in order to describe the specials for the day added that as long as you hold home within you, you’ll always find yourself. Summing up the whole paella of pontification, the Dad concluded that the biggest lesson he had learned from graduation speeches was to make your bed every morning.
The Breadboard was all abuzz today – not so much because of the yummy food and the fact that the deck is open and the crew treats you like family and the fresh roasted award-winning Goodbean better not bitter coffee is just right – yes, those are always buzzable aspects of the Breadboard experience – but today was different. Apparently, for some bizarre and inexplicable reason, someone dropped off a copy of the Mueller report – I mean, it’s not like the Breadboard is The New York Times or the leading edge investigative rag, Sneak Preview – it’s not even a news organization, but, 7 am, first thing in the morning, Laura cheerfully unlocked the door because she’s always cheerful, and there was the report wrapped in a plain brown wrapper with a Post-It note that said, “Would’ve sent this to the New York Times or the Sneak Preview, but I had an awesome lunch on the deck here yesterday, so here you go,”. Weird, right? I know! The Mueller report. And according to the report, amazingly, Ashland was at the center of some of the controversy, including lurid accounts of Mayor John Stromberg playing blackjack with Donald Trump and Stormy Daniels in Las Vegas; Ashland meals tax money being funneled through Deutschebank in Germany; and harrowing tales of cougar and deer protesting on the White House lawn (the wall apparently couldn’t keep them out). Of course, this is all rumor. No one has actually seen the report, let alone the Post-it, and if they did, they would deny it and just order another massive and sinfully tasty Marionberry muffin and divert the conversation to something more neutrally pleasant like the delightful frothiness of the Breadboard Cappucino or the imaginative tastiness of the day’s Fritatta… buzz, buzz, buzz. Wonder what tomorrow will be like at the BB.
Eggs Benedict with classic Hollandaise made from scratch all day, every day… weird? Nope, just wonderful.
Usually, the Breadboard opens their deck on May 1st but this year, they opened it on April 1st because if the gas stops working in Ashland at least people can sit outside and drink coffee and eat salads and sandwiches and maybe they will fire up the BBQ because the weather is getting weirder and summer might come in April. Things just seem to be getting kind of weird in Ashland lately. Like, I overheard a woman say that she was a vegetarian but then she confessed that the Breadboard bacon is so amazing that’s the one place she makes a compromise – but really that’s not the weird thing. Also, I don’t necessarily want a stranger staying in my house, but there seems to be more and more homeless people in Ashland but I heard some people at lunch the other day complaining that it’s getting harder and harder to find house-sitters lately which, if you think about it, it seems kind of weird. Another thing that pretty much everybody can agree on is that the new animated Spider Man is a better actor and cooler than any “real” spidey, and that’s kind of weird. But what’s REALLY weird is how the Breadboard can serve an eggs Benedict (veggie or with Canadian Bacon) seven days a week, all day long, with classic hollandaise sauce made from scratch and no one in the kitchen is French… although there is a French guy named Pierre that comes to the restaurant pretty much every day but he doesn’t spend any time in the kitchen. That’s weird because Hollandaise can be moody if the chickens aren’t happy so to get it right seven days a week is pretty cool. Also, I guess one of the weirdest things lately is to lose the Ashland Outdoor Store and Cripple Creek. They added charm and character to Ashland and they will be missed.
A great man once said that if the plaza was the heart of Ashland then Lithia Park was its soul and, for me, a perfect day was in the making because I’d had Almond Crusted Nutella Stuffed French Toast in the morning at the Breadboard and their specials change almost daily and this one was another amazing creation and then I had indulged in a long leisurely walk through Ashland’s soul and then, after visiting some friends, I figured why not cap things off with the perfect capper which of course meant going to the Black Sheep because where else can you find a Celtic music jam, Guinness Stout and Irish Stew all merged together at the same time? So there I was, listening to the story of the drunken sailor and the rattlin’ bog and rovin’ about with cockles and mussels and on and on and then a little fellow in a Paddy cap at the table next to me was getting a wee bit loud and he started talking about the Breadboard and how one of the servers there told him that they are happy to have the business from tourists and visitors BUT they’ve been serving Ashland for 36+ years and their FOCUS has always been their LOCALS, their regulars, and how they have just started offering a LOCAL SPECIAL for LOCALS ONLY, seven days a week, where you can get 2 eggs, homefries and toast for $4.99 but it’s for locals only and it’s top secret and it’s not on the menu and they don’t advertise it and you have to ask for “The Local Special” and if you say the “The Local Deal” or “The Ashland Special” or something else, they won’t give it to you at the special price because they’ll know you are faking it and you probably don’t even know what the Helman mascot is or where the fairy ponds are – kind of like a secret knock kind of thing – and I thought it felt kind of mysterious and Irish in a revolutionary speakeasy old country kind of way, but, you know, for breakfast, and everyone started cheering and doing an Irish Jig and it was the perfect ending to a perfect day.
Apparently, there is a new bohemian inspired mom uniform emerging in New York involving number 6 clogs and a thick colorful detachable handbag strap. Its a shift from the Amazon parka and sneakers and two steps past the yoga pants and Uggs get-up and while I was having breakfast at the Breadboard the other day a Grizz high school student was trying to explain this to his mom because she had on this sweater with shoulder pads and he was trying to explain that she was stuck in the 80’s and it was embarrassing and she was trying to explain that the 80’s were cool again and he was insisting that the 80’s were to fashion like Spam was to food and that, yes, some things never go out of style like say the Breadboard Omelette but Spam was never in style and shoulder pads were meant for football. And she tried to shift the conversation to his Senior project and he said he’d been doing “deep research” on YouTube and he’d found that there was a new-agey fad in South Korea where stressed out busy executives were paying to go to “prison” where they were locked in a room for 5 days and could only eat porridge and had to do semi-hard labor and while he was shoveling in a big plate of homemade buttermilk biscuits smothered in thick country gravy he was saying that he wanted to be locked in the shed in their backyard with no food or water and record the experience and that he would need to miss a week of school but it was worth it because he could complete his entire senior project in 5 days and the mom said she thought that was an excellent idea but it would need to be 10 days with no phone and he could do it over spring break while they rest of them went to Maui and he could have the cat in the shed with him which solved their vacation cat-care problem and there was this long awkward silence as he shoveled away…
I was totally immersed in the pleasure of sipping my Breadboard better not bitter coffee – black – unadulterated – straight – pure – genuine – true – honest – just a good straight cup of quality joe – and I was reading an article from the Chicago Tribune on my iPad because I can do that because the Breadboard has WiFi and this coffee guru guy from the Trib was saying that all the diners in Chicago have “achingly” bitter coffee because he toured diners testing coffee with a “refractometer” and a medicine dropper and scribbled equations in a notebook and he measured the “total dissolved solids” and I thought that he probably wouldn’t be that fun to hang out with and it just really seemed kind of ridiculous because first of all I lived in Chicago and I have fond memories of their diners and the characters that treated me like family and I’d never criticize my mom’s coffee and second, I can sip coffee and I either like it or I don’t and I like the Breadboard coffee because they get it delivered fresh from Goodbean in Jacksonville and they grind it as they brew and I don’t need a refractometer to tell me it’s awesome when I read my iPad and munch on omlettes and muffins and pancakes and eavesdrop on everyone’s conversations and then I started thinking about Chicago and Wrigley Field and Soldier Field and I realized that because Oregon doesn’t even have a professional baseball or football team that my life is basically pretty stress-free and the last thing I’d want to do is deal with the tension of using a refractometer every time I felt like a cup of joe and then I started thinking why is it called joe, and I asked my server but she didn’t know but then an elderly lady – like really elderly – at the table next to me told me the term dates back to World War I when Josephus Daniels, the boss of the Navy, tried to improve the morality of the sailors by banning certain things like prostitution and booze on the bases so instead he started pushing coffee because I guess he found those three things kind of equally satisfying so the troops started calling it joe but not really in a nice way because in their world those things weren’t really equal and I thought her story sounded pretty believable – hey, who needs Google when you’re sitting next to a well-informed sweet little old lady who was, by the way, drinking her coffee black, so I bought her breakfast and we enjoyed the fall view and sipped our better not bitter Breadboard cup o’ joe.
A lot of people don’t know that the Breadboard has been around for 35 plus years – it was originally a gas station built in the 40’s until a couple of people started selling sandwiches in the early 80’s. That’s around the same time an Architecture professor named Erno Rubik came up with a weird puzzle that no one really understood and took months to solve because back then there was no YouTube or even smartphones and people just had to figure it out but over a billion cubes later kids can solve the Rubik’s cube in 4 seconds which seems almost impossible to comprehend but then how a place that used to be a garage can serve Pumpkin Pancakes that are incredibly addicting is hard to comprehend and the service is so fast at the Breadboard that even if you were a freakishly fast cube solving phenomenon you still could only solve it a few times before your pancakes were served and you’d have to quit because you had to dive into those yummy pancakes and your whole world would slow down as you savored every scrumptious bite and your cube addiction would be supplanted by a feeling of calm and reflection and you’d start feeling poetic and wanting to write haikus like the 15 century poet Basho and with each bite you’d start thinking “Every day is a journey, and the journey is home.“
The country gravy at the Breadboard is thick and creamy and flavorful and amazing with big hunks of sausage and bacon and I was really enjoying it the other day and this couple sat down next to me with what seemed to be their elderly father and the young husband was saying that he’d been juicing and was going vegetarian and gonna get the veggie benedict and that he’d had a creepy nightmare last night about Shirley Temple munching little animals out of her soup while she sang about it and the wife said that she thought that caging exotic animals is wrong and that it was evidence of a true spiritual awakening that Nabisco had finally let the lions and tigers roam free from their cages on the Animal Crackers box but she still wanted some of that delicious thick cut Breadboard bacon and the elderly father said he had no idea what they were talking about but he wanted to know what the doctor had been talking to them about after his physical and the wife said that there was some bad news and some really bad news and the father said to just let him have the really bad news first and the wife said that he has cancer and the father slumped and sipped his coffee and said, “OK…what’s the not so bad news?” and the wife took a moment and said, “you have dementia” and the father sipped some more of that delicious Breadboard coffee and thoughtfully looked out the window for a bit and then a big smile came over his face and he said, “well, at least I don’t have cancer!” And he said, “Today is a day to celebrate, I’m gonna have a Mountain Man with that delicious country gravy!”
I was enjoying a delicious omelet at the Breadboard the other day. I was sitting on the deck… the morning was cool, the air was fresh the sky was blue and I was still in a celebratory mood like everyone else because the Beavers baseball machine earned another national title. I noticed a young man, he was sitting alone. Dressed all in black. Reading a 4-inch thick physics textbook. The table next to him had young parents busily texting away with two cute but rambunctious little ones. The mini- Einstein grunted and mumbled “obstreperous children with their juvenile parents”. After observing the young family and googling “obstreperous”, I had to agree he had a point. Then the mini-Einstein noticed I was watching him and the kids. Our eyes met and he sort of sneered “the moderately stunning view of Grizzly Peak upstaged by the raw drama of human nature?” Then he stood up, stretched, cracked his neck and sort of actually “sauntered” over to my table and I was a little nervous because I’d just finished reading a Clive Cussler novel and you know, you never know… Then, in a very low, measured whisper he hissed “Good morning Beaver hat. You like drama? I propose we play a game of chess. Loser buys breakfast. “ Being still a little cocky and feeling the obstreperousness in myself percolate after the Beavers dramatic victory, I replied, “Set ‘em up, Einstein.” Go Beavers.