Nov 27, 2019

Breakfast

By Ed Goldman
I’ve always thought that breakfast is the most self-important meal of the day. It shows up on nearly every diet plan as essential, and we continue to be fascinated by the important people who have it each day and what a good one may consist of for them.

The most fascinating accounts to me are what celebrities, mainly very slender women, claim to eat first thing in the morning, because it’s usually either far too hearty to explain their admirable figures, unless they follow breakfast with 40-mile runs and some form of voluntary purging. Or it may consist of items like fresh celery hearts, a gluten-free artisan cracker with a dab of artisan almond butter and gingko tea flavored with free-range lemon. Just typing that has inspired some form of voluntary purging.

Because Ronald Reagan appeared to be one of our fittest presidents—despite his advanced years, reliance on index cards to remind him whom in his cabinet he was meeting with and a tendency to mistake his wife for someone named “Mommy”—there were a number of stories written about his dietary intake, which included Jelly Bellies, the worst substitute imaginable for good old-fashioned Brach’s Jelly Beans. The president also thought that ketchup was a food, if you’ll recall.

To be sure, the stories, which mostly ran in Sunday supplements like “Parade,” “Family Weekly” and “Home, Hearth, Heaven, God and Zero Sex” (I may have made up that last publication), also made serious mention of the physical labor the president put himself through when spending long weekends at his Santa Barbara ranch. There, White House photographers would take pictures of him clearing brush, riding horses and enjoying wine with Claudette Colbert, who’d been a movie star for many years before and after Reagan had, often attributed to her skill in acting.

I used to enjoy those picture spreads though admit I wondered, on more than one occasion, why the Leader of the Free World couldn’t spring for a gardener. Maybe “Mommy” wouldn’t let him spend his allowance on one.

I can see why the White House was eager to depict Reagan as being the mirror opposite of his predecessor, Jimmy Carter, and I suspect it may have extended to a casual remark Carter once made about his breakfast preference: “Juice and coffee.” Whoa! This guy was a farmer? No five-egg omelets, slabs of ham, fried potatoes, white toast, creamery butter and fresh strawberry preserves?

“…the stories ran in Sunday supplements like “Parade,” “Family Weekly” and “Home, Hearth, Heaven, God and Zero Sex”
On the other hand, as I write this, Carter is 95 years old, the longest living former president and certainly one of the most public-minded. I saw a dreadful photo of him working on a Habitat for Humanity home on his birthday in October and have to confess I was tempted to turn in the Habitat people for elder abuse. Then again, I reminded myself that if the country’s greatest ex-president feels like spending his birthday at a lathe, who are we to criticize him? We should be grateful. At least he wasn’t photographed clearing brush on a ranch.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving. I’ll be back Monday. And please pass the juice and coffee.

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Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).