Never Settle For Toast When You Can Have the Full Spread

People often say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When it comes to designing a tasty, healthy breakfast in the morning, some days I do better than others. But even on my best days, I’ve never come close to designing the glory that is the German breakfast.

Have you ever had this experience? A German breakfast? Perhaps while traveling or staying with German friends, you have seen this morning spread in action. Simply put, nobody does breakfast quite like the Germans.

I woke up in a hotel in Heidelberg, Germany this morning, and it is truly a great gift to be here. My husband is giving an astronomy lecture at Universität Heidelberg this evening, and we used some airline miles for me to tag along. This city is completely gorgeous.

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I look forward to exploring it even more.

Before exploring, however, when our morning began today, we wandered downstairs for breakfast. I knew it would be spectacular. Even anticipating it, I still geeked out. There was a glorious spread of breads, fruits, cheeses, fruit jellies, and of course, Nutella. This puts America’s complementary breakfasts completely to shame. There were so many palettes and choices.

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(That photo is just one side. There were many types of bread and jam on the other side).

And in the midst of all of this, there was also . . . TOAST.

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And that reminds me of a sweet and funny story.

In college, I had the wonderful opportunity to travel to Germany to sing. I used to sing with the Cardinal Singers of the University of Louisville, and three years in a row, we came to Germany to sing in choral competitions. (Did you know there was such a thing as the Choir Olympics? No swimming, figure skating, or diving, but choirs compete in various styles of music. We went to Bremen in 2004 and won three gold medals. It was one of the greatest adventures of our lives! But that story is for another day.)

In the midst of these trips, one year, we competed in a town with a long, quintessentially German-sounding name: Limburg-Lindenholzhausen. Go ahead and try to say it. It’s fun. And while we were there, we stayed with families who lived in a town nearby. It has a short, quintessentially German-sounding name: Staudt. Go ahead and say that too, because it’s also fun. (Pronounced Shtowt).

We were hosted by members of the men’s choir in Staut along with their families. Every day, we woke up to that glorious German breakfast spread, and it was perfect. In my mid-30s, I still thoroughly enjoy this experience, but as college students, we were ecstatic eaters of all these delicious options.

And while we were savoring it all each morning, without fail, our hosts always asked us,
“Would you like some toast?”

We always said something like,
“No, thank you. We have all of this, and it’s wonderful!”

Then they would always ask a second or even third time,
“Are you sure you wouldn’t like any toast?”

Again, we would kindly refuse and thank them, always with this implication: “Why would we need toast when we have the most glorious breakfast of our whole lives right in front of us?”

Two or three members of our choir stayed in each home. When we were together again and comparing stories of our homestays, we realized we had all experienced the same, daily toast ritual. After this happened several consecutive days in a row, finally one of our singers learned the real story behind the question.

These very hospitable families heard that Americans like toast a lot, so. . . every single family went out and bought toasters. Just for our visit!

That’s such a dear, little memory. We laughed hard when we figured it out. It was so kind of the Staut folks to buy us toasters. I’m just sad we never gave them the opportunity to use their new appliances.

And there it was again today in all caps:
TOAST. 

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The moral of the story is this:

Always give people the opportunity to share their hospitality, but also,
never settle only for toast when you can have the full spread.

Renee Roederer

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