Confessions of a Breadboard Addict - The Breadboard
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.
Yesterday was really interesting at the Breadboard. There was a group of six young boys, maybe 11 or 12, sitting on the deck and they all had T-shirts that said Atari Lives! Apparently they had been deeply affected by the new Wes Anderson movie, “The Isle of Dogs”, because they all were really fired up and going on and on about how the movie was a metaphor for overcoming evil and it unlocked the keys to self-actualization and because it so closely paralleled “The Matrix” (hm?) they really out to be organizing self-help seminars based on the “Atari/Samurai/We Can All Be Boy Heroes” theme and how this was a business begging to be started and they could all get really really rich… etc. And then one of the Atari Lives! group started quoting Socrates who said “how many things there are that I do not want” and a couple of the kids agreed saying that in Japan there are over 200 different flavors of Kit Kat Bars and that was ridiculous and then one of the kids said Socrates wasn’t talking about Kit Kat Bars, he was talking about materialism but then the other boy said there was a really cool new art gallery that just opened up next door to the Breadboard in the little log cabin and they could maybe organize an event there because the wife does world class glass art and the husband travels one week a month all around the country sourcing great art and maybe they could see if they could do some kind of joint promotion and maybe she could make a glass figure of the Atari boy samurai with a screw sticking out of his head but he was cut off because the Socrates kid that felt like “there are so many things he didn’t want” said that the one thing he really “wants” is a dog and the movie was more about love than heroism and they needed to set the goal of trying to see that every boy in America adopts a dog – that should be their mission statement – but then their food came and they each had a different dish and they started arguing about whose was the most awesome and the one with the Nutella Stuffed French Toast was the most convicted – obviously. And then a woman with a dog walked onto the deck (because that’s totally cool at the Breadboard) and she had on an Atari Lives! t-shirt and the energy jumped another notch and my Goodbean coffee was better not bitter, and the view of Grizzly Peak was stunning and my food arrived and I thought, maybe I should have ordered the Nutella Stuffed French Toast, but after one bite of my Breadboard Omelette I started chanting too. But I’m still puzzled as to how there could possibly be 200 flavors of Kit Kats and I thought I’d ponder this as I checked out the art next door…
(feel free to bring your own take-out bag)
Things almost got ugly the other day in the Breadboard. The four women at table 2 had decided to each get a different omelet but then to also get a plate of Marionberry Muffin French Toast and to split it… the problem was that it came with 5 pieces and it’s obvious that this wasn’t gonna work. Things were all bright and breezy at first because everybody was still revelling in the new found joy that the Breadboard has finally gone with compostable/biodegadeable to go containers, utensils, and straws and now only gives straws on demand which are the most damaging and deadly thing we can put into the environment but as the omlettes dimished into the final bites the conversation switched to the French Toast and how this was one of the items Guy Fieri was going to feature on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives when he visited Ashland, but he was equally taken by the Mountain Man with the rich country gravy but at the last minute he was apparently more into Indonesian food and who could blame him because authentic Indonesian food is hard to resist and Blue Toba is the real deal but the customers that nominated the Breadboard for Triple D deserve a big hug of appreciation because Breadboard customers are passionate about their place and that’s why they fight over the 5th piece of Marionberry Muffin French Toast. Fortunately, the discussion about the importance of using biodegradable to go containers at the Breadboard seemed to mollify the women at table 2 and one woman had to use the restroom and another had to take a call outside so the other two split the last piece – kind of like a Trump/Kim moment (sort of but not really) – but all was well and because of the to go container adjustment the turtles now stand a better chance and the Pacific garbage patch will grow just a little less and we can all feel good about that.
I was in the Breadboard the other day politely eavesdropping on a conversation between a mom and her pre-teen son and he was a big OSF fan and mentioned that if the Bard were alive today he’d have just had his 364th birthday and as she nibbled on her huge and scrumptious home-made Marionberry muffin that is baked daily at the Breadboard (not at home) she said that Shakespeare actually never existed and there is a very well-documented conspiracy theory supporting this claim. The son was deep in thought, and the Mom maybe thought he was offended… again… and the conversation was over. Then the son asked her why she was so big on using organic pesticide because if it’s purpose is to kill things then what’s up with that. Then he asked her why she is so big on recycling everything but she uses two paper towels when one would suffice or why use paper towels at all? And why were she and Dad building a house when there were lots of older houses available and why did they buy a pure bred dog when lots of ‘em at the animal shelter needed homes and, if Shakespeare never existed how is it that his cannon is so harmonious and then by the same line of reasoning, if a big bang results in chaos why is the universe so orderly and he said he can explain why the sky is blue and why it feels like time is speeding up as you grow older but can she? And as their meal came she gave a defeated sigh and said at least they can both agree there is no such thing as gourmet British food and the son shrugged and nodded and she asked for a second muffin.
I saw the sweetest little old lady in the Breadboard the other day and she was alone and it looked like she had been crying. She was wiping her eyes and sniffling a little bit and I leaned over and asked if she was ok. She said she was fine, she was wiping her eyes because she had just woken up and had hurried to the Breadboard to be there when it opened and she was awaiting her first cup of coffee for the day. She said she appreciated my concern and suggested I join her for breakfast because we could each order something different and split it that way we could each get something sweet and savory and besides she had been wanting to talk to a “younger” person about what the deal is with this country these days. Before I could respond, the coffee arrived and she had shifted over to my booth and said to the server that she’d like the Mountain Man ‘cause she needs some of that yummy real country sausage gravy smotherin’ them fresh biscuits and eggs and cheese mmm…and she said that I’d be having the Marionberry stuffed French toast. Then she said she was really perplexed with the things going on this country and that she was a huge Batman fan but now that she knows that Ben Affleck’s tattoo on his back was real she was really conflicted. She told me that she also followed the philosophy of Kim Kardashian and agreed with her view that why would anyone put a bumper sticker on a Bentley and that Ben was definitely a Bentley and he should have never split with Jennifer Garner and he was a way better Batman than the last pretty boy Superman but not nearly as cool as Black Panther – but of course – who is? And our food came and she decided I should leave the tip and to be sure to be generous because the service at the Breadboard is second to none and two meals and three cups of coffee later she waved goodbye and I never even caught her name.