A Concrete Breakfast

Raven-Symone started it.

I've known the cute dimple faced former Cosby star since she was one of the stars in my national play, "A Mother's Prayer." We traveled together on the same sleeper bus for several months. During that time, and afterwards, she shared with me her fascination with cooking and watching cooking shows. The former I get, but a passion for watching cooking shows? I didn't get it because at the time there were only a handful of shows on the air which were more than likely modeled after Julia Childs and the Galloping Gourmet. They seemed drab and uninteresting--like watching someone make oatmeal.

Today, several years later the cooking show explosion is all over the boob tube and now, admittedly, I get it. With one eye on my computer screen, the other eyeball can be found on shows like "Top Chef" and "Chopped" and even those cake baking shows like "Cake Boss." Oh the drama: Will they deliver the leaning tower of Pisa cake without it toppling over?! Wow. Have we been reduced to this level of entertainment? If I had known, before she died, I would have had a camera on my grandmother while she shuffled around her kitchen, hands covered with flour, making her famous home-made biscuits as she sang in a warbled off-key soprano voice, "Guide my feets fo' I runs dis race..." We could have launched the show during Black History Month and called it "Biscuit Singing Granny" or something like that. Anyway, I digress.

What brings all this to mind is the food I got this morning at Atlanta Bread. I bounce back and forth between Starbucks and Atlanta Bread. Starbucks I get the oatmeal. Atlanta bread I get a breakfast sandwich (which are yummy!) This morning I opted for the more healthy fare at Atlanta Bread and ordered the oatmeal--with the works (cranberry, strawberry, walnuts). A red flag should have gone up when it came out from the kitchen so fast. I had barely finished making my coffee. It wasn't carried out by the quiet could-be-cuter-if-she-bothered-to-care cook who normally works in the morning, but rather it was brought to me by this large guy who droned, "You here every mornin' huh?" I was tempted to say, "Sometimes at Starbucks and only when I'm working on a project," but I didn't want him to follow up with, "What project?" Blah, blah, blah. So I simply said, "Yeah." I looked at the bowl. One of the terms I've learned in watching these cooking shows is plating, which is basically the way food is presented to the diner. This was not plated well--although I could tell he tried. The strawberries were cut lengthwise and arranged around the rim of the bowl in a corny configuration surrounding the cranberries and nuts which were sprinkled generously in the middle. Like I said, he tried. But the real sin for me was that the oatmeal tasted like crap! It was not very hot and was so thick I swear I was stirring concrete. I had to ask for a hot cup of water to loosen it up.

I ate it because, well, I was hungry and I'd paid for it. But as I ground the sludge between my teeth I thought to myself that my singing granny or Raven-Symone would not be happy with the Atlanta Bread show this morning. They'd turn the channel.