What would it be like to brunch with Ralph Ellison? Or go with a big gang to a diner with William Shakespeare in tow? How would Jane Austen like her eggs? Dana Schwartz imagines what authors should eat for breakfast.

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway sits at the diner, in a seat facing the door. The vinyl of his chair squeaks beneath him. It had been a long night. All of the nights had been long since he came to the city.

He orders brown toast. The waitress sighs. They don’t have brown toast.

“Then I’ll just have a cup of coffee.”

The coffee comes bitter and lukewarm but he drinks it anyway because it reminds him of the coffee they had in the trenches, that they drank in the murky Italian twilight, the fields stretched out before them like their memories of childhood innocence.

When he finishes his coffee, he pays the check, and leaves. The War still lingers.

Jane Austen

Jane Austen notices the flicker of disapproval that crosses her dining companion’s face when his date orders the egg whites only. She sips her tea, not ordering anything, but watching as the entire drama play out before her, in tiny, imperceptible glances.

Haruki Murakami 

The smell of fresh coffee floats throughout the diner, a reminder that it is morning and that we are all here, in this world with two moons and two suns, the way it has always been.

Haruki Murakami orders a black coffee but he is thinking about classical music. Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11 in A Major has been stuck in his head for days now. 

A cat appears in the doorway of the diner and hops gracefully onto Haruki’s table. Haruki scratches behind its ears. He’s seen this cat around the neighborhood. It turned up on the same day his wife disappeared. 

He enjoys a perfect cup of black coffee almost as much as he enjoys Mozart’s Piano Sonata No. 11 in A Major. 

Ralph Ellison 

Ralph Ellison hesitates to order the special of pork chops, grits, eggs, hot biscuits, and coffee. But then, just as the waitress is turning away, he makes up his mind. He orders yams, shamelessly, eagerly, happily, talking loud so the entire restaurant can hear him. “I yam what I yam,” he says. “I yam what I yam what I yam what I yam.”

F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Bottomless mimosas, old sport!” F. Scott Fitzgerald declares, slightly too loudly, shaking his fist in the air and bringing it down on the table with a surprising strength. Zelda rolls her eyes and he pinches her face in his hands. “Now, now, darling,” he says.

“I’d like to order the fruit bowl for the table,” Zelda says. 

“No one wants to share your fruit bowl, darling. I’ll order and you can share some of what I have,” he says.

None of us here like each other, but that hardly seems to matter when the food is so expensive and our clothes look so divine. 

Chuck Palahniuk

Breakfast is a lot like life: Most people don’t make it out alive, and the people who do end up with indigestion, wishing they ordered the eggs instead of the oatmeal.

“I’ll have the eggs, scrambled,” Chuck Palahniuk says. Life is scrambled. Everything is scrambled. Entropy. 

He keeps repeating himself to make sure the high school-aged waiter understands him.

 Dust to dust. Ashes to ashes. Consumerism is a disease.

Brian Jacques

Brian Jacques orders freshwater cod garnished with fresh crème and tarragon leaves, alongside broiled carrots caramelized in brown sugar and nutmeg with a lemon and sun-ripe raspberry cordial to drink. Barley pearls in an apple and acorn purée perfectly complement the acorn crunch and minted pear ice cream served for dessert.

William Shakespeare

SHAKESPEARE: Shakespeare, party of six.

HOST: Are you certain? Some diners are not who they say they are

SHAKESPEARE: I am indeed the man I say I am.

WAITER: Who is it that had the eggs? I think you did.

LYSANDER:  It was me but now I want French toast.

VIOLA: Methinks I was the one who ordered eggs.

WAITER: Not so. I know the eggs were for a man.

HELENA: It seems we all want meals we cannot have.

MERCUTIO:This brunch intimidates me. People should speak normally. It’s all so confusing.

SHAKESPEARE: Not so! Not if you have a good teacher. 

Stephen King

Stephen King goes to a diner in Maine, a small town diner, the same diner he had been going to every day for the past fourteen years. They didn’t know his history in this town, and he preferred it that way. It was quiet; everyone was friendly. Even the memory of his ex-wife seemed less painful here. 

The waitress delivers the pancakes with a smile, but her smile seems almost sinister.

“Enjoy,” she says flatly, baring her teeth and spinning away before he can say thank you.

Is it just him, or do these pancakes taste a little different than normal?

Malcolm Gladwell

A restaurant in the city of Yiwu in eastern China amazed customers for a peculiar reason: The couple who ran the establishment appeared to work for 21 hours straight with no signs of exhaustion. 

Dubbed the “robot couple,” customers couldn’t understand how the two individuals appeared to open the restaurant at 6 a.m. and work continuously until it closed at 3 a.m., and then reappear the next day.  

Eventually the secret was revealed: The restaurant was actually run by two couples – two men and two women, both identical twins.

Anyway, there’s a point to this anecdote but Malcolm Gladwell orders coffee and a low-fat cheese omelet.