There are not nearly enough pyrotechnics taking place at breakfast. There's a dearth at dinner, sure, but at least then the occasional Bananas Foster or Cherries Jubilee might make an appearance on a roving dessert trolley. A very long New Orleans lunch could possibly end in a blue blaze of high-proof café brûlot, but breakfast is almost inevitably devoid of foods that are set on fire. How very dull. But seemingly, it was not always this way. In Thomas J. Murrey's charmingly-named Breakfast Dainties, an 1885 collection of morning-friendly recipes, the author goes deep on several food groups, including fruit, toast, bread, potatoes, and eggs.
There are of course omelets galore—a sweet omelet with jelly, another with oysters and cream, and a Spanish rendition with pepper, ham, mushrooms, capers, and paprika. Murrey also doles some pretty straightforward instructions for making a basic omelet "for beginners," including omelet advisories such as "It is better to make two or three small omelets than one very large one, as the latter cannot be well handled by a novice." and "Salt mixed with the eggs prevents them from rising, and when used the omelet will look flabby; yet without salt it will taste insipid."
The reward for mastering the omelet minutiae: You get to bust out the overproof rum and set that sucker ablaze.
The Omelet au Rhum is made as follows: "Prepare an omelet as has been directed, fold it, and turn out on a hot dish; dust a liberal quantity of powdered sugar over it, and singe the sugar into neat stripes with a hot iron rod, heated on the coals. Pour a wine-glassful of warmed Jamaica rum around it, and when on the table set fire to it. With a tablespoon dash the burning rum over the omelet, blow out the fire, and serve."
Perhaps you are a human prone to spectacle at breakfast. You're jamming sparklers into crullers, sabering your mimosa Champagne, and having your pancakes borne in by a dancing dog. Great—this'll be mildly entertaining for you. For the rest of us, BOOM! Not only is there the mandate to use a fire-heated rod (you could probably stick a metal skewer under the broiler for a few minutes), but there's also the opportunity to ladle flaming booze on top of a sugar-dusted omelet before noon, and nothing could possibly go wrong there.
If you're a bit skittish about trying an Omelet au Rhum at home, you might try grabbing a restaurant reservation—and a time machine. According to the New York Public Library's database, in 1900, the dish appeared on at least five New York City menus, three in 1941, one in 1947, and then seemingly fell out of favor. Is 2017 the time to reignite our national love affair with flambé breakfast? Fire it up.