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Start With Breakfast

September 26, 2016

The thing is, I’m unsure about where to even start this week. Later today, I’ve got the dreaded doctor’s appointment. But tonight I’m going to spend some time with a bunch of Yelp friends to eat a lot of dumplings. My sincere hope is that I’ll miss tonight’s debate that starts at 9pm EST.

I don’t know if I can take it.

Just yesterday I spent the day at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Manhattan, which presents a living history of the Holocaust. To say it was upsetting would be putting it mildly. One remarkable reminder from the museum was how innocently it all started, with anti-Jewish flyers and political propaganda.

The museum didn’t draw the connection to modern times, but the parallels with our modern political climate and the venomous attitude toward the Muslim community are eerily similar.

To make my mood even more somber, I happened to walk past the 9-11 memorial. I hadn’t been there since before the towers fell. And there’s something about the fountain that is especially heart wrenching. To me it felt like a bottomless pit of despair, that created a vacuum of sadness and loss.

Yes, I might try to eat myself out of this. However, depending on how my visit goes with the doctor, I might not be in much of an eating mood either. So, how do I even begin to turn this around? Let’s start with breakfast.

I am coming back from a weekend in New Jersey after all. We stayed at the Cherry Hill Holiday Inn. Apparently, one of those bidding for travel companies thinks this is a higher rated hotel than it actually is. But it was fine. We needed beds and showers, and we got beds and showers. Thankfully, the room only came with free breakfast for the kiddos, so Mrs. Fussy was inspired to leave the hotel and hunt for something better.

So where do you go for breakfast when you’re in Jersey? Easy, the diner.

Sure, not all diners are created equal. Even in New Jersey. But the overall excellence of New Jersey diners is strong.

Part of this has to do with competition and volume. There are so many diners that if one is lackluster, it just won’t survive. People will go elsewhere. And this also is a force to keep prices low. Of course, it’s also influenced by population density. Since New Jersey diners can move a lot of people through their doors, they can be profitable enterprises.

All the same, I wouldn’t want to run one myself. But I’m thrilled they exist and continue to thrive.

Our first morning in New Jersey we went to a diner close to our hotel. There I noticed they had something called a healthy hash. It was a combination of white bean, sweet potato, and kale. The hash was made with xv olive oil. This had me written all over it. I love beans and eggs. So I ordered this with two poached eggs on top, and some Tabasco on the side, and I was in diner heaven.

Even Mrs. Fussy’s less healthy breakfast potatoes were excellent. They were fried with onions and peppers, well browned, and deeply seasoned. I got to try a few bites of those and stole a few nibbles of the kids chocolate chip pancakes. It’s like dessert of breakfast. Everything was excellent, but the hash was great, and the poached eggs were nearly perfect.

Sunday morning, I was still feeling full from the bat mitzvah, and we were able to make it all the way up to Newark before needing to stop for breakfast. Downtown Newark on an early Sunday morning is a bit of a wasteland. Still, the place is just dripping with character.

We found a corner diner, and there I ate a modest breakfast of coffee with a Taylor ham, egg, and cheese sandwich on a hardroll. When in Jersey, right?

Still, I have no ability to enjoy pork roll with saltpepperketchup. Know thyself.

There’s something just happy making about seeing those notches cut in the edge of a pork roll, so that it doesn’t curl up when fried on the griddle. And this breakfast sandwich kept me going until our two o’clock break at the Museum of Jewish Heritage. My hope was to have the hand sliced schmaltz herring at the cafe, but unlike diners, the museum restaurant had no competition. As a result, the speed of service was so slow I had to cancel my order and grab a bodega sandwich in order to catch the bus home.

But that’s another story.

The bottom line here is that New Jersey diners make me happy. It’s important to have a happy place. Fortunately, I also have happy places closer to home. There are a lot of them. Maybe I can find a way to focus on those this week too.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. September 26, 2016 10:49 am

    Reference the pork roll notches, a favorite nickname for the stuff is “PacMan Bacon.”

  2. September 26, 2016 12:54 pm

    You should have eaten, and there are choices available in the Wall Street area. Next time go to Dave’s Hoagies on Cedar St or Sophie’s Cuban, in an alley behind the bull.

  3. Pam C. permalink
    September 26, 2016 10:00 pm

    Daniel, your comparison of Jewish propaganda in 1930’s Germany to today’s anti-Muslim rhetoric in the U.S. is noted. But there is a big difference. The Jewish faith ( and most other faiths) do not have in their holy books a command to convert or kill non-believers. Jews have certainly never been known to behead anyone. In 1930’s Europe they were largely just raising their families and earning a living. I still don’t understand after all these years, how the German people were persuaded to believe that the Jewish people were evil and deserved to be exterminated. I will never understand it.

    • September 27, 2016 12:43 am

      I can’t speak to Islam, but I can speak a little bit to Judaism. The old testament is a big book, and it’s filled with savage stuff. It’s also an old book. The world was a very different place when it was written. I’ve got a few choice quotes from the Torah. These are a few of the 613 mitzvot that all Jews are supposed to follow.

      596. Destroy the seven Canaanite nations–Deuteronomy 20:17

      597. Not to let any of them remain alive–Deuteronomy 20:16

      598. Wipe out the descendants of Amalek–Deuteronomy 25:19

      There’s also a bunch of stuff in the Torah about stoning people to death for worshiping foreign gods and other infractions.

      Does mainstream Judaism today endorse any of this? Certainly not. But if there were a billion Jews alive today, might we have a few deranged jerks who would long for a more literal interpretation of the old texts? Regrettably, based on human nature alone, I have to imagine we would. But if I remember my history, Christianity has some track record for brutal violence when it comes to converting the infidel. I suspect, at the time, there must have been some scriptural imperative that drove, or at least allowed for, these actions.

      We all have bad things in our books. We all have bad things in our past. The challenges of the faithful today are how do we deal with these things and how do we reconcile them with our own personal beliefs.

      The danger, as demonstrated by history at the museum, is in demonizing, denigrating, and dehumanizing an entire people.

      If you want to see how the German people were persuaded to hate the Jews, I’d strongly encourage you to take a trip down to the museum. Because it wasn’t just the German people. It was the Polish. It was the French. It was the Hungarians. It was the Americans. It was even the Canadians.

      In early 20th century Europe, the Jews were scapegoats. It’s easier to blame a complicated problem that society is facing on a group of people seen as “the other”. And it starts with small, seemingly innocent comments like yours.

      As it just so happens, I stumbled upon something that suggests beheading was indeed an ancient form of Jewish punishment, and even though it wasn’t explicitly in the Torah, it was codified in the Talmud.

      Sorry for this long response. I’ll try to wrap it up. But before I go, I’d like to ask just one thing.

      Please don’t sell yourself short. I think if you did a little bit of digging, you would indeed be able to understand how the Nazis convinced the people of the world that Jews, Homosexuals, Blacks, Roma, and others were subhuman.

      And when you do, you’ll start to hear the echoes from the past in online forums, on the radio, and on television. Nobody thinks such a thing is possible in America. But nobody thought such a thing was possible in Germany either.

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