Starting back in the 1970s, a decades-spanning ad campaign by the American Egg Board (yes, there is such a thing) was launched that spent tons of money getting Americans to remember “the incredible edible egg” — complete with annoying jingle — when we were deciding what to eat for breakfast. It worked, and eggs are now the almost-mandatory protein source for breakfast (and sort of were before, but whatever). But now that eggs have more than doubled in price in the last year, often going for upwards of $5 a dozen? We say: go fuck yourselves, eggs.
See, eggs, we have other options. It isn’t just about you; even excluding those breakfast staples that just include eggs in the baking process, we have a plethora of gut-pleasing alternatives to the admittedly incredible egg. And here’s the evidence.
Okay, let’s start with the obvious. Because this list has no interest in just enumerating all the variations on this theme, let’s just stipulate that there are a ton of cereal-based options that are (to varying degrees) delicious,completely viable options to eggs. No matter your taste, you have pretty good options here. Sugary cereals to Cream of Wheat to a big bowl of steel cut oats with nuts and pumpkin seeds or twigs or whatever you put in that bowl there, Wilford Brimley — it’s all the right thing to do.
9) Corned Beef Hash
Doesn’t have to be corned beef, of course, but the classics are always best. Still, hash is hash is hash, potatoes and veggies and meat all thrown together and intermingling and swapping keys and generally acting like it’s a breakfast version of a dinner party from The Ice Storm. Hash is the '70s porn of breakfasts: quick, unapologetic, and satisfying.
If there’s a diametric opposite to corned beef hash, it’s gotta be the smoothie, a healthy (if sometimes faux-healthy) and very yuppie addition to the breakfast menu. Smoothies may not have been invented in the 1980s (they were actually invented some half a century earlier), but the health craze and shift from traditional family meals to food-on-the-go makes the blended beverages feel very Gordon Gecko. Whether you make them with non-fat yogurt, spirulina and locally harvested honey and berries, or your version is more like a pureed and mostly melted sundae, the draw of the smoothie is strong.
7) Gallo Pinto
One of Costa Rica’s traditional breakfast dishes, this is essentially just rice and beans with spices and maybe a topping of cheese. (It’s also sometimes topped with egg, but we’re clearly going to skip that entirely optional addition for this list.) You might have had something similar down in the bayou called Hoppin’ John, with black-eyed peas subbing for the beans, but it’s the same concept: starchy, savory, steaming goodness in a bowl. The fact that this dish is also essentially aggrandized leftovers should deter you in no way whatsoever.
New Orleans’ contribution to the delicious world of breakfast pastry is usually made without eggs, which means very good news for this list. Because beignets are just plain good. Forget your Krispy Kremes and your Dunkin Donut Munchkins — beignets are the royalty of the breakfast pastry set, and not just because their French appellation makes them sound all fancy.
5. Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
This next option is about as American heartland as you can get — and not a damned egg in sight. Homemade biscuits fresh from the oven, split and drenched in creamy sausage gravy? This is stuff that fuels a full dawn-to-dusk day of work in the fields, which is why it emerged as a staple dish after the Revolutionary War. Times were hard, stores of supplies were lean, and people made do with what they had. Work hard, eat hard, waste nothing. It was good enough for your grandparents; it should be good enough for you.
So long as you don’t order the egg bagel, we’re golden. You can crown these bad boys of Jewish cuisine with whatever you want: sesame seeds, onion flakes, poppy seeds, or the somewhat worrisome label “everything.” Then keep piling it on: cream cheese, chives, capers, lox, whatever you want. Have one while reading the New York Times; it’s pretty much mandatory.
3. Chicken Fried Steak
Okay, granted, some recipes for this filling old standard include an egg wash for the pounded steak, but that’s because it’s the lazy way out. Old-school recipes spurn the egg in favor of buttermilk and a thinner veneer of flaky coating (usually spiced breadcrumb) for the meat. Adding the egg runs the risk of doing to the steak what even Colonel Sanders had a problem with at his own KFC restaurants once their turned into chains: he used to call the crispy chicken a “damn fried doughball.” And he was right.
2. Caramel Pecan Rolls
Sure, pretty much any homemade rolls will suffice for this place on the list, but if these rolls are clearly the best things in the world. Homemade sweet dough pinwheeled in cinnamon sugar and butter, halved pecans folded in and sprinkled over the top, and homemade caramel sauce drizzled over it all. It’s the sort of breakfast that makes you want to wrap up in a blanket and eat it on the couch, watching an old movie, constantly returning to the kitchen for just one more — until you decide that pretense is a little ridiculous, and bring the whole pan into the TV room with a fork.
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SHOW ME HOW
1. A Plate of Bacon
Because who’s going to argue if the answer to the question “what’s for breakfast” is “a heaping pile of bacon?” Pass the maple syrup for dipping and the last thing on your mind will be “where are the eggs?”