If you’re the sort of person who gravitates toward diners, whose favorite restaurants serve breakfast all day (we are not talking about McDonald’s), who makes breakfast for dinner at home and whose idea of a good time is making frosted flakes from scratch, then here’s a cookbook for you. “Big Bad Breakfast” is the new book from John Currence, and it’s a big, bad book of a cookbook, as was clearly the author’s intent.
Currence is pretty big and bad himself, if you want to push the conceit: He won the James Beard Award for Best Chef: South in 2009, has appeared on “No Reservations” and “Top Chef Masters,” has a string of restaurants in Oxford, Miss. — including one called Big Bad Breakfast — and has written for the magazine Garden and Gun. Which seems only fitting for a guy who makes food for the folks of Oxford, home of both Ole Miss and William Faulkner.
“Big Bad Breakfast” is Currence’s second book, after his debut “Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey,” and it is a happily irreverent ode to the meal. There are forewords by John Besh and David Chang (imprimatur for the irreverence genre), a funny introduction in which we are given the 10 Commandments of Breakfast, and then 75 fun recipes for all the omelets and hoecakes and scrambles and enchiladas and biscuits and gravy that you could hope for. There’s quite a range of breakfast styles, from arepas to pain perdu, pimento cheese to migas, Pop-Tarts to something called the Pylon: a Belgian waffle piled with hot dogs, chili, slaw, oyster crackers, etc. “Yes, people, this is miracle food,” Currence writes about it, saying he’s seen it revive many hungover students as well as David Chang himself.
Ed Anderson’s hunger-inducing photography includes repeating plates of pancakes, lots of cast-iron skillets and eggs in various compositions, pouring coffee, Elvis Presley tapestries, biscuit step-by-steps, shots of a baseball-hatted Currence at work in the kitchen or bellied up to a crowded counter. Flip through all this, read the chatty anecdotes (in praise of MSG, the emu egg in the parking lot), and the handy tips from someone who’s worked in many kitchens, both other people’s and his own, and you get a growing sense of comfort — and that’s not just because many of the recipes are for comfort food.
Unsurprisingly, the book concludes with a cocktail chapter. “There is little in the world that’s more fun than day drinking,” writes Currence. “If you take offense to this particular theory, well, we have very little to talk about.”
The point, of course, is that there is much to talk about — and much to cook, preferably for breakfast.
Cookbook of the Week: “Big Bad Breakfast,” by John Currence (Ten Speed Press, $30).