1. The First Drink of the Day
LJ: I hate coffee. In my opinion, nothing about it is good. Sometimes people assume that because I’m into wine I must identify as some sort of coffee-gourmand but the only coffee I have time for is the lowest-brow coffee that exists. I like my coffee weak, black, iced, and full of sugar. I drink iced coffee as far into the winter as I can make it without my fingers falling off; if it’s too cold for iced coffee, my favourite kind of coffee is the kind they give you at a diner, that comes in a clear pot. That is nice coffee.
I don’t like warm beverages in general, or soup even. I don’t like the feeling of warm liquid dribbling down my esophagus, I am offended by its invasive little journey through my body. But the grossest thing of all is coffee with milk in it, mixing milk and water— I just can’t. I can’t understand why people like mixing their bitter acid bean-water with dairy fat. I can’t.
I drink one coffee a day, and I drink it in the morning, and I don’t enjoy it. I do it because I’m addicted to caffeine and I have to, and also I do it to get it over with. If I drink a coffee past noon, my life is over. I have a creepy panic attack and get really sweaty, and then I burn out. I am so excited to reach the point in my life where circumstances are chill enough for me to endure a couple weeks of caffeine withdrawal and never drink a coffee again, but that seems too far away for me to even dream about, so for my first drink of the day I will go with a nice big iced coffee, in a big clear cup, flavoured if possible— ideally vanilla, but hazelnut is fine too— the kind you get from a bodega in New York City, where they kindly put the straw in the hole for you, but then leave a little inch-and-a-half of paper around the top of a straw. Sometimes they even put your coffee in a bag! A cute paper bag. That always blows my mind, as a Canadian, where we’re so hyper-conscious of waste— I’m like, “No no no! No bag, no bag! I don’t need the bag! For this coffee that I’m immediately going to start drinking in one second.” But then, I kind of want the bag, because it’s so cute. I like that the option is there for me. Anyway, then I would dump like seven Splendas in it. It's really hot outside.
LIZ: A single-serving can of Dole's pineapple juice and one of those airplane bottles of champagne, on a flight to some city I'm in love with, like New York or Seattle. You pour the pineapple juice into the plastic cup of ice (in this case, CRUSHED), then you drink the iced pineapple juice and when it's all gone you pour the champagne into the cup. So it's like champagne with essence of pineapple, a little bit of pineapple flash. The plane is blessedly wi-fi-free as all airplanes should be, because airplanes are for reading novels and crying at movies you would ordinarily never even want to watch. On my dream flight I would read some sprawling trashy heartbreaking novel featuring a finely wired character I could picture to look like mid-'80s James Spader, or maybe play solitaire on my tray table: the most elegant thing a woman could ever do while drinking champagne on a solo flight.
JEN: Matcha latte with cashew milk from Commissary in New Paltz, NY, in their handle-less ceramic mugs on a saucer but in my apartment.
LJ: The first thing is a soft-boiled egg, soft-to-medium, just a perfect stinky glistening little orb on the plate there. I would cut in half with the side of a fork, then leave it for a moment, to be admired.
The second thing would be a wee pyramid of arugula salad, demurely dressed with lemon and olive oil. It could have some nice tomatoes in it, if tomatoes were in season: cherry tomatoes, cut in half. I am weird about tomatoes, but when they’re good, they’re good. But with very few seeds. If there are seeds, I have to take them away. I have to put them in a napkin and then throw the napkin away in another room. They have to be very far away from me.
The third thing is the most complicated, and the least realistic component that I would ever, like, chilling in my fridge: sticky rice, the kind you get at dim sum, in a lotus leaf, with stuff in it. But no chicken! That’s my new thing, not being able to eat chicken. I’ve had a recent string of extremely disturbing run-ins with gross chicken, and now I just CAN’T. I can eat a boneless chicken breast, and potentially a high-quality chicken finger, and that’s where my relationship with chicken begins and ends. I can’t eat a nugget, I can’t eat a thigh, I can’t eat a wing.
So, no chicken. This is my dream sticky rice fantasy, so it can have anything I want. Some mushrooms, enoki mushrooms— little cuties! Definitely some shrimp vibes, a little squid perhaps. No, dream bigger Laura- lobster. Can I put truffle oil in it too? You bet I can! And lots of scallion. There would be a little dish on the side, too, with extra chopped raw scallion for me to sprinkle on top.
Then I’d put tons of salt and pepper all over the salad and egg, insane amounts of salt and pepper, which is how I roll when I’m alone but I’m too ashamed to share that part of myself with another person, and in my opinion breakfast should always be eaten alone. Breakfast-time is for realigning your brain and body and you can’t include another person in that process, even if you love them, you have to shoo them away during breakfast, into the other room, with the tomato seeds.
I would mix the salad into the rice, and savour the egg. I would save my perfect bite for last, and it would be the yolk with a chunk of lobster.
LIZ: These banana-cinnamon pancakes I ate at Duke's Coffee Shop on Sunset Strip in March 2003, on my second-ever trip to L.A. I'd gotten flown to Orange County for a work thing and afterward I took the bus up to Hollywood and stayed at the Best Western near the Hollywood Bowl, and the next morning I insanely walked from there to the Strip. Duke's is dead now; it was right next to the Whisky a Go-Go, it was a "rock & roll coffee shop." I barely even remember the pancakes - at this point I've gotten them mixed up with every banana-cinnamon pancake I've ever made for myself, like a few years ago when I won a pot of weed butter in a Yankee swap, after stealing it from a famous musician guy who ended up with a sweater with a cat on it, and then went through a phase of making weed butter banana-cinnamon pancakes. All I really remember of my Duke's pancakes is the banana was so melty and gooey, and there was a ripped poster for River's Edge above my table. I believed the poster meant something about me and Los Angeles and fate and love, and I absolutely still believe that.
(P.S. I want to give a shout-out to some of the other great pancakes of my life, including: the dulce de leche panqueques I ate with my brother and sister in Buenos Aires in February 2012, the Snickers pancakes at Snooze in Denver, whatever the hell those pancakes were that I ate at Pancake Pantry when Alissa and I went to Nashville in 2013, the White Russian pancakes from the Black Dog on the island of Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts <3)
JEN: Miso soup with greens, seaweed, and mushrooms topped with a decent amount of shichimi togarashi and a tiny bit of tamari. Alternatively, a whole-wheat everything bagel toasted with tofu sun-dried cream cheese from Bergen Bagels. A life of balance.
LJ: Even on a perfect holiday-day when I’m like “Fuck it, I can eat whatever I want,” it sounds gross and lumpy to spoil my lunch-appetite by eating a snack too soon after my sticky rice breakfast, so I’m going to be a more realistically me-style decadent for my eleven AM snack and have a glass of champagne. I don’t want it to be too weird or old, I want it to be stylish and lithe, and the first sip of it tastes like opening up your eyes. It’s a non-vintage Blanc de Blancs, citric and mineral, a tad severe but fuck it that’s what I’m in the mood for, and it makes me want a couple of oysters, but I already made the stupid decision to not eat at this fake meal, so I don’t have any, but I’m sitting out on a balcony and there’s an ocean nearby, so I can smell the ocean and pretend I’m eating an oyster, and it’s a little bit cold out, and I’m alone still. Just me and my champagne. I write a wine_child about it.
LIZ: A pot of this cinnamon tea they used to sell at Super King but it's gone now. It was a black tea spiced with cinnamon and it was the exact flavor of "Cinnamon Girl" by Neil Young: slightly cinnamon-bear-y but earthier, more subtle. It'd be served in one of those nice utilitarian silver pots from the Chinese restaurant, which are always the best teapots in town. The tea would happen with a splash of cream and spoonful of white sugar, in a big clunky mug.
JEN: A slice of vaguely healthy but still delicious spelt banana bread with dark chocolate chunks and pecans and a lil peanut butter spread on it with a cup of genmaicha.