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Apr 2, 2009 09:24 AM

The Alice Waters breakfast

Or at least that's what I'm beginning to call it ever since seeing her make it on 60 Minutes. It consists of eggs fried in olive oil, served on diced tomatoes on toast. I've made it several times since, finding it to be a delightful and delicious combination I had never tried before. I guess using chopped tomatoes in an omelette can be considered standard fare, but topping it on toast and putting a fried egg on top seemed unique to me. Is this something anyone has ever seen in restaurants? I never have.

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  1. Tomatoes are common with breakfast in Britain and Latin America. Not common in the US, until recently, even though Huevos Rancheros have long been on breakfast menus in some sections of the country - but that uses tortillas.

    Americans aren't big on vegetables for breakfast and, in the US, tomatoes are considered a vegetable, ever since the Supreme Court said so.
    In Nix v. Hedden, 149 U.S. 304 (1893)[1], the United States Supreme Court decided that the tomato was a vegetable (rather than a fruit which it is botanically,) under the Tariff Act of March 3, 1883, which required a tax to be paid on imported vegetables.

    9 Replies
    1. re: MakingSense

      <Americans aren't big on vegetables for breakfast >

      Have to disagree with you there. Eggs Florentine are ubiquitous in Manhattan, and spinach is most definitely a vegetable. Unless you're making a distinction between breakfast and brunch, in which case I agree with you.

      1. re: small h

        OP was talking breakfast, not "brunch."
        People eat lots of stuff for brunch.
        Most of the 300 million Americans - at least those who aren't skipping breakfast - are grabbing bagels, toast, cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, eggs if they're lucky, cold pizza, donuts, etc.
        Eggs Florentine ain't on the breakfast menu at truck stops and diners in towns and along highways across the US. Not at the Waffle House or part of Denny's Grand Slam. Ain't made it to McD's yet.
        The closest you might find would be a Western Omelet as a ubiquitous American breakfast item that included veggies. Or perhaps shreds of onions and peppers in some hash browns.

        1. re: MakingSense

          Speaking of McD's, didn't (or does?) their breakfast burrito have diced tomatoes in it? I've never actually eaten one, but I seem to recall commercials involving chunks of lovely, red tomatoes. Could've been added as an artistic license, of course.

          1. re: cimui

            Good catch. At least I think.
            I've never eaten one either, but I checked on their website and found that the "eggs" contain [emphasis added]:
            "Sausage & Scrambled Egg Mix
            Pre-cooked egg product [eggs, nonfat dry milk, soybean oil, food starch-modified, salt, natural black pepper flavor (plant source), extractives of black pepper, xanthan gum, citric acid, natural (dairy and botanical source) and artificial butter flavor, annatto extract (color)], pre-cooked sausage [pork, water, dextrose, spices, corn syrup solids, sugar, monosodium glutamate, BHA, propyl gallate, citric acid (protect flavor)], VEGETABLE BLEND (TOMATOES, GREEN CHILIES, ONIONS, calcium chloride, citric acid)."

            Teeny tiny bit of vegetable bring up the rear of the list.
            You're right that it is "artistic license." Just to give it that little bit of South of the Border flair, huh?

            I'll keep skipping this one.

      2. re: MakingSense

        Sliced tomatoes in season are far from unknown on Southern American breakfast tables, and a slice of tomato is a common addition to a sausage biscuit, when it's eaten ungravied as a sandwich. Tomatoes, onions and sweet peppers are popular all over the country as omelet fillings, with California adding the ubiquitous canned green chiles. My favorite omelet to make at home is a French-style thing with melted pepper-jack cheese rolled up inside of a green chile, topped with pico de gallo, sour cream and a drizzle of Pico Pica taco sauce.

        1. re: Will Owen

          I was JUST this minute thinking of you! I'm about to take "your" wonderful pork shoulder roast out of the oven. 'Bout the 4th or 5th time I've cooked it in 3+ months. It's the best. It's for tomorrow night's dinner but I like to pour the "juice" into a Pyrex cup and lift off the fat tomorrow. Thanks again and always for that, Will Owen.

          1. re: Will Owen

            Agreed. Growing up our weekend breakfasts in the summer almost invariably involved tomatoes. A bacon-egg-tomato sandwich on toast with mustard and mayo is still one of my favorite summer breakfasts.

            1. re: Will Owen

              my recently departed mother(91) always loved throwing tomatoes in with the frying eggs in the pan, then served over a piece of toast. She'd eaten em that way since a kid.
              Country cooking :)

            2. re: MakingSense

              << Americans aren't big on vegetables for breakfast >>

              I always flinch a little when I see these stereotypical comments on American diets. America is a huge country with many regional differences in diet. I am in New England and my family has always had veggies served at breakfast. I also see this in many diners in the area.

            3. I make shakshuka for breakfast now & then. Here's a recipe, if you like a nice hearty tomato & egg concoction:


              1. I had something along these lines at Cafe Fanny, which I'm sure you know is an Alice Waters cafe in Berkeley. Poached egg on toasted english muffin with tomatoes, drizzled with a balsamic vinaigrette. This was more than 10 years ago, when I was but a fledgling food lover and it seemed really new and unusual... and delicious! Now it's just part of my repertoire and would not surprise me to see it on a menu somewhere, at least here in California, though I don't specifically look for it.

                2 Replies
                1. re: soniabegonia

                  I've had poached eggs on sliced tomatoes many times restaurants. I've just asked for that and never get a funny look. But, like you, I live in NoCal. Don't think I ever saw that my first 30 years living in Atlanta.

                  1. re: c oliver

                    I too live in northern California, but have seen sliced tomatoes on the menu in other states as well. It would tend to be in coffee shops or diner type places. It would either be listed as a side or as an option for the kind of breakfast where you select how you want your 2-3 eggs prepared, what kind of meat side or substitute sliced tomatoes, and toast.

                    It sticks in my head because I would frequently pick sliced tomatoes over sausage or bacon (shocking, I know). Just now, I googled: diner eggs sliced tomatoes, and turned up the option on random menus in states like Florida, Michigan, California, New Jersey.

                    Another thing I order for breakfast where tomatoes are a key ingredient is a bagel with cream cheese and sliced tomatoes, yum!

                2. Can't say that I've seen it in a restaurant - I'm not sure that my brain on the hunt for a meal would even see it since a frequent breakfast for me is grilled tomato and fried egg on quince or damson toast. When ordering, I look for things I wouldn't typically have at home.

                  It is such tasty breakfast.

                  1. I prefer grilled tomatoes, which are especially convenient considering that you can cook everything in a single pan. Halve the tomatoes, swipe the cut ends through a bit of salt, and cut-side down into the pan; toast the bread and fry the egg alongside. By the time the egg is cooked through, the tomatoes will be nicely softened and caramelized.