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Breakfast With Rashi

In this week’s “Tell Me,” Tablet Magazine’s illustrated question-and-answer column, we reconstruct a reader’s morning repast—and offer commentary on the proceedings

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Liana Finck
One double-espresso
Presumably, one double-espresso is equal to two single-espressos, but you only have to drink one. Why espresso at all? Is Linda a Europhile? A European, even? Maybe. I would also venture that she likes the ritual of espresso: the compact grounds, the smell of brewing coffee, the steam, even the loud noises. She does not mention milk or sugar, which leads me to believe either that she is one of the rare people who truly loves the taste of unadulterated black coffee, or that she does not like the taste of coffee and prefers espresso because there is less of it to drink.
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Liana Finck
English Breakfast tea
Regular black tea, popular in Britain. Linda drinks the coffee first, very quickly, because it jolts her awake. The tea comes next, slowly, while she gets oriented.
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With milk English Breakfast tea is good with milk. If Linda didn’t like milk in her tea, or if she were lactose intolerant or vegan, she’d probably drink a different kind of tea, like green or herbal. Normally she drinks skim milk, but she puts whole milk in her English Breakfast tea because it lends a beautiful opacity to the beverage.
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Liana Finck
Really sour
If Linda didn’t want her bread sour, she’d probably eat a different kind of bread than sourdough, perhaps French bread or olive loaf. Maybe she’d even eat cake. She wants her bread sour, as sour as possible, to remind her of slavery in Egypt and how thankful she is to be free, awake, alive, with the whole day ahead of her.
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A pat of real butter
Does Linda mean real butter, as opposed to margarine? Does she mean real butter as opposed to just the thought of butter? Neither, silly. Linda has taken her husband’s last name–Pilgrim. Linda’s husband Scott really is the descendant of pilgrims, and as an homage to his ancestry he churns his own butter, which is not why Linda married him but it did sweeten the deal. It also sweetens the sourdough. After he churns the butter, Scott forms it lovingly into heart-shaped pats, which he then wraps in wax paper and stocks in the basement fridge for Linda and the children. Or the idea of the children. Scott and Linda are still a very young couple.
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Blackberry jam
Linda usually wears dark purple, because she is a professional psychic. She is a relatively messy eater despite her telepathic abilities (or, as Linda sometimes thinks in her darker moments, because she doesn’t actually have any), and she finds that–counterintuitively–blackberry is the jam least likely to stain.
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Raw
I’m in over my head here.
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Unsalted
Thanks, Bloomberg.
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Almond butter
Almond butter is probably much better than peanut butter, especially the texture. Also, an almond is a real nut, unlike the peanut, which is really a legume. Linda Pilgrim is not a nut herself, but she appreciates all things genuine.
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Liana Finck
In that order, one on top of the other
The butter, jam, and almond butter all rest on top of the bread, of course, which is on top of a plate. The almond butter is on top and is therefore the closest to God. For dinner, Linda eats the same meal in the opposite order: almond butter, blackberry jam, butter, bread, then milk with English breakfast tea, and then finally one double-espresso. This nighttime ritual is designed so that none of the ingredients should feel superior to the others. Lunch is usually pizza. This is life.
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Liana Finck Email your answers to tellme@tabletmag.com or share them in the comments below.

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Emily says:

This is very very stupid.

Anna says:

I like the commentary you can click on! If Rashi only knew about digital comments!

liana says:

what’s stupid? no literally. i never learned that word.

Alana Newhouse says:

Me neither.

Why Rashi? Why not Tosafot, or the Gemara on the Mishna? Or any of the other Jewish commentaries and supercommentaries down through the centuries? Is “Rashi” just a cool, Jewish way of saying “commentary,” or “long-winded commentary on something essentially banal and trivial”? In either case, I submit that the author might benefit from actually studying Rashi’s works.

If this comment inadvertently comes off as “Rashi” on Emily’s comment above, well, that can’t be helped.

This master artist/writer has clearly studied her Rashi, and is probably also aware of his day job. Brava!

Emily says:

Which of Rashi’s “day jobs” (vintner, Rosh Yeshiva, or member of the beit din) would have made him a logical commentator on the minute, boring and irrelevant breakfasting habits of a random 20th century individual?

liana says:

All of them.

liana says:

remember what he says about cucumbers?

liana says:

elli, yeah, i did not want this to be tooo obscure. i got broken up with again over this. a nonjew. agreed with emily.

liana says:

so there is justice in the world.

I thought this was very clever and funny. Also it would be good if people really did discuss Rashi at breakfast…..

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Linda Pilgrim says:

I LOVE THIS. I must not have discovered it until a few years after it was published. I had forgotten I replied to your question. But, when I read the details of my breakfast, I could not deny. In fact, I still eat this for breakfast or an afternoon snack, today.
Thank you, not only for entertaining me, but also for your valuable insight. Who knew you could read “breakfast” as a psychic reads tea leaves? [Oh, except, I'm not married to a character from graphic novel character--phew!]

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Breakfast With Rashi

In this week’s “Tell Me,” Tablet Magazine’s illustrated question-and-answer column, we reconstruct a reader’s morning repast—and offer commentary on the proceedings