Last Saturday, Paul and I got our coffee and breakfast fix at that bastion of ‘Murican greatness, the Waffle House. I can’t help sharing it with you, and hope you might come to know and love it as we do.
It’s not fancy. It’s definitely not elegant, and you have to be in the American South but, while Waffle House might be a Southern thing, I believe it is the best of ‘Murica, writ large.
They all look the same: small rectangular buildings along or close to a major highway, black letters on yellow simply announcing itself to one and all: truckers and travelers, junkies and late-night revelers in need of a beer-sponge, businessmen, families, and parties of one. All are treated as equals, all are welcome to a quick, hot, good meal served cheerfully by the hardest working people you might ever meet.
The menu is simple: eggs about any way one can cook an egg, pancakes and waffles of course, breakfast steaks and pork chops, and a variety of breakfast pig: bacon, sausage, and ham. Hash browns come any way you like: covered, smothered, diced or chunked, peppered, capped, topped, scattered, and country.
If you wander into one during lunch or dinner you can get a decent burger or sandwich, and I think there are other items too, but truthfully, I go for the breakfast, served 24/7. Cheesy eggs, hash browns covered and country (with onions and country gravy), toast and ham. My arteries begin clogging the instant I order, and I never finish the whole thing but I enjoy every last heart-stopping bite.
I watch the wait-and cook-staff clear tables, take orders, prepare food at the galley-style grill, and all pop up and call out, “Good morning!” each time the door opens to new customers. They are unfailingly pleasant and efficient, and I consider how much harder they probably work than I did when I waited tables, and how much less they probably make (based on the smaller bill totals of each check). They never stop. In the 15 minutes Paul and I waited for a table yesterday, the entire restaurant turned over.
It’s a good place for coffee and breakfast, and they keep your cup full. We could go through three or four cups while working our way through breakfast.
Paul always gets the All-Star Special, and I feel compelled to tell you that his waffle hadn’t yet arrived when I took the picture, lest you think I was a bigger glutton than he. While that may be true enough, were the waffle on the table it wouldn’t look like it, anyway.
As we pushed our plates away I might suggest you watch chef Sean Brock introduce fellow chef (and Yankee) Anthony Bourdain to Waffle House for the first time. A little professional testimony to bolster mine.
As we sat clutching our distended bellies, I’d tell you that we’ve found a place to rent for a while in Texas but the landlords didn’t make it easy and we wondered for a bit if we’d have to submit DNA analysis or witness statements about our characters in order to secure it. One year a home-owner and I’ve forgotten about the tribulations of renting, and maybe as we finished our coffee, you’d agree with me that this worry goes on my ever-increasing list of First World Problems I should give thanks for having.
And as we waddled out to our cars and said our goodbyes I’d wish you a happy week, and ask your prayers for my attempts at Organized Packing and the immediate future. Much to-doing to be done, and I’m gonna need all the help I can get.