Sunday, January 13, 2008

Every Breakfast Tells A Story...

My favorite breakfast in the whole world is blueberry pancakes with syrup and Jasper county sausage on the side. The problem with this combo was that it used to require tremendous coordination of my parents, not to mention the postal service.

Before the internet and 24-7 mail order catalogs, maple syrup didn’t exist in the south. My grandmother from Dunkirk, New York would to ship it to us once a year for Mom’s birthday. Mom would parcel it out like a miser, for fear its golden taste was being wasted on young moppets who might have been just as happy with Mrs. Butterworth.

Dad grew up on sugar cane and caro syrup and enjoyed experimenting. He’d buy boysenberry and blueberry and blackberry flavors. We liked the colors but not the taste. We knew what the Good Stuff was.

Then one day, Dad was cleaning out the cupboards of extra stuff. He was consolidating the peppers into one space, doing inventory for a grocery shop. When he found three different types of mustard, he began interrogating no one in particular, asking “Why do we have three jars of pepperocini? Did you know we have four different kinds of olives in this pantry and over fifteen separate types of jam in the second fridge alone?”

Mom could have said many things at this moment, but she wisely responded, "That’s why you are clearing out the stuff dear." And left the room.

Dad got efficient and ruthless in his cleaning frenzy, to the point of being reckless. He consolidated the syrups, all of them: the boysenberry, strawberry, the cheap log cabin and the sugarless into the biggest tin of all, the Pure Grade A Dark Amber Maple.

My childhood was a fairly happy one, but I remember, this was a grave sin.

Suffice it to say, Mom got a new tin of Grade A Maple Syrup and it is now considered sacred, such that she eyes every new different bottle of syrup that darkens our door with suspicion.

Now getting the Jasper County sausage was a separate issue all together, shrouded in secrecy.

My dad gives his clients, his friends and his family and those who know about it, two wonderful gifts at Christmas time; a five pound bag of rice from the Beaumont Rice Mill (our ancestors started and some of our family still own it), and a five pound slab of spicy pork sausage known only as Jasper County sausage. Dad hunts ducks in LaBelle and thus has contacts with all sorts of people from the South East Texas area, including apparently this mysterious sausage man.

Once a year he clears out the Suburban and drives to Jasper County, (we don’t know where) and comes back with his truck filled to the gills with fresh processed meat which we then dutifully wrap in butcher block and red cellophane and tie with green ribbon. Then the freezer is stuffed and we begin the sausage runs around town, delivering spice, rice and good cheer as we go.

The only thing I think I know about the Jasper County Sausage man is that one year he got a new helper. That year the links were shall we say, extra spicy. Almost inedible by some standards, but I found if you drenched them in maple syrup, all that was left was the pleasant after burn of eating something hotter than usual for breakfast and feeling you had conquered any chance of being labeled a wuss, (and all before noon).

Now we have tried over the years to learn the name and address of this man. Somehow, Dad always manages to duck us, I think it tickles him that we have to take it on faith that this sausage will reappear each year. Once, my younger brother even tried to tail him to Jasper but Dad lost him on the back roads. In recent years, however, he has taken Mom. I suspect he has sworn her to secrecy.

Still, while maple syrup and jasper sausage are filling enough on their own to supply all the calories necessary for running a few marathons, they need the plain comfort of fresh pancakes. Pancakes are the Larry to Curley and Moe in breakfast.

For years, my parents had used the very sensible (you are too short, you are too young) rationale to keep me from the griddle. However, when my mom went into the hospital two months early with my sister,I thought it had become necessary for me to master making breakfast for my brothers and myself.

Could I have made cereal? Yes but that’s too easy. Could I have made scrabbled eggs? Yes, but I had been making those for years and those were boring. Could I have made oatmeal or grits? Yes again, but I didn’t think of those because, well, I wanted pancakes.

Now most pancakes are fool proof but then most of my functional cooking life, I have personified fool. A Mensa member I am not. After I wrecked the kitchen, my Aunt stepped in to do clean up and save my bacon, or at least, my pancakes.

Still, after years of practice, I can now flip them with a practiced ease and make my own favorite breakfast thank you very much, I just have to get Dad to cough up the info on the sausage man.

Maybe I can bribe Mom with some Maple Syrup.


Silverfox said...

You paint a warm picture of the the perfect breakfast. We are among the lucky recipients of the famed Jasper sausage and correctly REAL maple syrup is an excellent condiment for it.

Christine said...

I hang my head in shame...we have sugar free, store brand syrup in the cabinets.

Diesel said...

I can't believe he mixed all the syrups together. Does he have no decency?

Ello said...

THat was a wonderful story, Sherry. Loved it - but just reading about that sausage started to give me heartburn.

Leaving a comment is a form of free tipping. But this lets me purchase diet coke and chocolate.

If you sneak my work, No Chocolate for You!