In Defense of Breakfast – Yale Daily News
There are two types of students at Yale: those who eat breakfast and those who don’t. The former satisfies their body’s natural need for a morning dose of glucose, while preparing well for a busy day. The latter stumbles out of bed in a hurried and hypoglycemic state. Their stomachs rumble through the sermons, ready to devour their computer keyboards. They live their days at Yale never completely filled. This struggling demographic needs a savior: they need breakfast.
The most common arguments I hear from people who don’t eat breakfast are 1) they can’t wake up in time and 2) there’s nothing to wake up to. But I’m not looking for a dining experience – in fact, I don’t think most breakfasts do. On the contrary, quite simply, I will start my day in peace.
I usually go to my residential college dining hall around 8:30 a.m., when Cross Campus is still quiet except for middle-aged dog walkers and squirrels filling up the trash can. When I press my ID, I can expect a vibrating “Hello!” behind the plate deposit area. The dining room employees slowly prepare the day’s entrees while chatting during the morning radio show.
The breakfast service plan is forever etched in my heart. The milk, juice and cereal pop-up machine to the left of the entrance, facing the yoghurts, teas and coffees. Mountains of the same pastry sit on the main counter like the ghost of pizza, steel-cut oatmeal in place of soups, and fresh-cut fruit tucked away in the corner. The twin waffle makers emit their magnificent three-beep-beep-beeps, announcing their place again and again. I move around in this space like a cook in her kitchen.
I can’t object to the monotony of breakfast or the American breakfast as a whole. The melon slices are more stable than most of my connections at Yale, and I still have trouble deciphering the cream cheese from the yogurt. But I’ve come to appreciate the predictability of the cold breakfast in the Berkeley dining room. At the start of the day, I’m more preoccupied with classes and upcoming events than I want to spend more brain cells debating what to eat. In a world where we’re inundated with choice, it’s a relief to walk into the dining room knowing it’s going to be a day of cereal, yogurt, or oatmeal.
That’s not to say there aren’t any culinary gems. Rich Greek yogurt topped with Yale Granola, drizzled with honey and sprinkled with half-thawed blueberries? Looks like a breakfast straight out of a health food blog. Lightly burnt waffle topped with syrupy strawberries and coconut yogurt to fill the whipped cream void? Bye bye, Belgian Waffle at $10 from Maison Mathis. And the pastries… cinnamon crumbles anchored by a cakey blueberry muffin? Dessert for breakfast needs no explanation.
With my breakfast in tow, I head to the back of the dining room. For once, it’s quiet inside. Sunlight takes up more space in this room than noise, pouring through the thin vertical windows, illuminating the airborne dust and casting golden prisms across the table. No more shoveling food in a hurry before class or being deeply engrossed in conversation, I can connect to my surroundings. I am beginning to appreciate the magnificence of this space. My eyes traced the curly black veins adorning the Gothic windows. I scanned the paintings of former college principals – their clothes, their body language, and their wives. I counted all the stuffed animal heads, which I hope are fake. At breakfast, I find myself marveling at the beauty and quirks of the building like a high school student on a campus tour. I have breakfast with this building.
It is not only about discovering space, but also about searching deep within. For me, eating breakfast is an act of recovery – of our bodies and our time. Every moment of the day should not be channeled to produce something, to play for others, to improve. So be on an intermittent fast. So be the last pages of this reading that I have not finished. So be the endless Yale Hamster Wheel™ that will enslave us to our work unless we take time for ourselves. For once, Yale is mine.