Yesterday morning one of the livelier students asked if anyone else in the room liked fish for breakfast. After the group gave him some fishy looks, one classmate said well, sure, smoked salmon and scrambled eggs is great. And of course I had to chime in that lox & cream cheese on bagels can’t be beat.
So by the time the class broke up around 8:30, I was craving lox and cream cheese. Where to find it, here in the cultural Sahara? In these parts, a Jewish deli is rare as a fur coat on a Mexican hairless pooch.
There’s a Paradise Bakery more or less on the way home, so I dropped by there to order up a bagel with lox and cream cheese.
Amazingly: no luck!
The Paradise Bakery does have bagels and cream cheese, the latter in several persuasions. But they have no lox.
Briefly I considered: would a bagel with chive cream cheese suffice?
Uh…no. Somehow I’d scrounge something out of the mostly bare cupboard, something (unknown what) that surely would satisfy my craving for salty stuff.
As I climbed into the car to go on my way, it occurred to me that the Safeway a block or two down the road would surely have lox, cream cheese, and bagels. From deep inside the freezer, the coffee beans called me home.
So it was into the Safeway parking lot, making a fast run on the deli.
God help us. The guy behind the deli counter did not know what lox is!
Didn’t believe me about the “cultural Sahara” bit, did you?
He speculated that maybe the meat department would know where to find it, if the store carried it.
Uh huh. The store’s open 24 hours, but the meat department doesn’t open till 9 or 10 ayem.
But luckily, a butcher’s factotum was out in front, filling up the counter’s compartments with fresh ice. She directed me to the cabinet where little plastic bags containing tiny overpriced servings of lox hung in cooled air.
Not ideal. But better than nothing.
Choice of cream cheese: Philadelphia or Safeway brand knock-off, probably manufactured by Philadelphia. What the hell: get the cheapest.
I’ve never been nuts about bagels, and you can be sure the bagels available in a Phoenix supermarket are even gummier and more redolent of library paste than the most average of East-Coast bagels. So in the bakery department I picked up a loaf of fake “artisan” bread: air bread shaped like a bloated baguette.
Sliced and toasted: not a bad imitation of one or the ’tother.
From the fridge, I retrieved half a Bermuda onion…just the thing! Sliced off a bit of it, very thin. In the same cache, what should I discover but a half-full jar of capers!
Thick rounds of fake artisan bread, toasted and slathered with industrial cream cheese, topped with onions, capers, and industrial lox: not bad!
Pot of coffee brewed in a French press out of espresso beans: Elysian!
For what it would’ve cost to buy one breakfast bagel and a cup of bad coffee, I got enough ersatz bread, cream cheese and lox to make three or four breakfasts or brunches!
Food, wonderful food! So much more wonderful when you do it yourself…