These little treats have been my favorite breakfast food lately, and most of my children also love them (all of my children love them, except for the one who won’t believe me when I tell him that plain Greek yogurt + jelly/honey/maple syrup is the same thing as those little cups of Fage yogurts he eats, except without the tiny tube of jelly you get to fold over and squeeze. Sometimes it really is all about the packaging for him.)
It started one morning when the same old foods just weren’t going to cut it for me. I needed a new combination. Often we eat oatmeal for breakfast. Sometimes I spruce it up with mid-week eggs or an hour of pancake making. I’ve tried all kinds of pancakes: sourdough, banana, blueberry, chocolate chip, peanut butter and flax meal, orange-buttermilk with orange butter and maple syrup, but in the end, I think a pancake is just a pancake and on this morning, usual just wasn’t going to cut it.
Of course, my kids would have eaten cereal. Or they would have eaten oatmeal, especially if I had let them sprinkle their own brown sugar. They would have eaten Craisins and dry cheerios. They would have loved pancakes. This day, it was me. I needed something different.
That’s really what my Fun with Food series is all about. I want to have fun with our food. I want to taste new things and use my creativity in mundane ways, when it doesn’t really matter if I mess up. I want to experiment, to shake things up, to push on the buttons of our lunch and breakfast menus.
I went to the fridge and glared, like I so often ask my children not to do, standing with the door gaping open like my recently conscious mouth, the interior of the beloved appliance staring at me with it’s collection of hodgepodge, leftover foods cackling at my almost-surrender to The Usual.
Then I remembered the yogurt. My eyes darted toward the blueberries, plump and crisp and in-season. Hmmm…
The word “parfait” means “perfect” in French (it is also a dessert over there) but it has been Americanized to just mean a dessert, or a breakfast meal, consisting of ice cream or yogurt, with fruit and nuts or granola, sometimes with a syrup added, often arranged in layers and served in a tall glass so that each layer can be ogled like the great depictions of Degas ballerinas and the picnic people of Manet. When it is served, we immediately anticipate. The top layer is delicious, but we know there’s more waiting for us as we use our spoons to discover the tastes of what lies beneath the surface. This is the beauty of layers. It’s why art is so beloved.
Mine was a simple wish: that my children and I could discover something beautiful together in the early morning, when the sun was just peeking out and gracing us with its lovely, life-giving wonder. Though the horizon, and therefore the complete sunrise, is hidden from our windows, I knew it was coming. It always does. Each new day, whether we notice or not, is ushered in by a mixture of colors all blended one on top of another to create the very best reason for early rising.
We missed the actual sunrise, and we didn’t have tall glasses or long narrow spoons, but we made do.
The thing about French words is that, once you start saying them you can’t stop. Kind of like tasting these little breakfast miracles. So here we go again…
(For those who don’t know “c’est parfait” literally means “it is perfect.” So if you chose to add the parfait to your weekly menu, teach your kids a little uplifting French phrase while you’re dipping into the delightful combinations that this day has brought.)