My Breakfast With John Kerry
I always swore that if I ever ran into almost-president John Kerry I’d introduce myself, shake his hand and tell him how much I enjoyed those “Kerry for President” signs back in 2004.
But when I had the chance, when I was having breakfast no more than six feet away from him on Friday, I froze. Oh, I clandestinely shot a couple of photos with my phone while paying my restaurant tab but I didn’t approach the former presidential candidate, senator and secretary of state.
I’m a coward.
No, I’m not afraid of the lanky, silver-haired Democratic politician. But I AM afraid of the famous chef who was with him and I didn’t want to do anything that might get me banned from some of the best restaurants in the country.
Let me back up.
Big Bad Breakfast is Oxford, Mississippi’s most iconic morning refueling station. It also serves lunch. Shoot, during the coaching carousel a few weeks ago, many of us KNEW Rich Rodriguez would be be the Rebels’ new offensive coordinator after SB Nation reported that he was seen eating with head football coach Matt Luke at BBB. Take a man to that tasty place for breakfast and he’ll never leave town.
Sure, locals argue about whether the Beacon - a hash joint down the street - is better, but anyone with a taste bud knows that BBB is unbeatable.
That’s why people come prepared for a wait - and a long one on football weekends. The porch frequently overflows with customers patiently sipping coffee out of paper cups until their names are called for a table.
Shoot, buskers have even taken up residence outside, earning a few bucks from diners killing time.
It’s a casual eatery. During football season, it’s filled with hungry folk wearing red and blue. The rest of the time it’s all jeans and khakis and even the occasional camo.
BBB is purely first-come-first-served, which is why I was stunned Friday morning, when I was told there would be a little wait, while two primo tables were pushed together inside the door with a “Reserved” sign in pretty script resting in the middle.
I knew VIPs were coming when I saw author and award-winning Chef John Currence in his white coat, fussing around the table, making sure the silverware was just so.
Then a dark Chevy suburban pulled up and five men in suit coats, no ties, emerged.
Among them, our almost-president Kerry.
The men were ushered to the reserved tables and the chef held court with the gents for more than an hour.
I have no idea what they were talking about. They were clearly eating something that wasn’t on the menu - looked like oysters, but I tried not to stare - and enjoying themselves.
Of course everyone enjoys themselves at BBB. The menu is inspired. The service is excellent. The food is simply delicious and even the coffee is terrific. Strong and smooth.
One of the things that makes BBB special - so special that three other locations have opened, two in Alabama, one in Florida and a fourth coming soon to Charleston - is that some of the dishes are named for books.
There’s “Burgsalom, Burgsalom,” on the lunch menu. (Hey, this is Faulkner country.) “The High Lonesome” for breakfast (4 oz grilled steak, two eggs, house-made steak sauce) as well as “The Secret History” an omelet with seasonal herbs, tomatoes and shallots.
Of course, I’d go to BBB if they served nothing but bacon.
Back to my breakfast with John Kerry: I finished my “The Frenchy” omelet - fluffy eggs, ham and gruyere - before the coats-but-no-ties honchos finished theirs. So I left, wondering what brought John Kerry to this special spot so far from Massachusetts.
The next day I read in The Times-Picayune that Kerry dined Friday night at Bywater American Bistro in New Orleans before heading to Bullets Sports Bar where he listened to music and good-naturedly posed for photos with fans. From the newspaper picture, it appears he was still wearing his BBB attire.
Wish I’d said “Hey” to Kerry when I had the chance. Could have taken the risk and annoyed the chef. But, trust me, you never want anything to get between you and your next Big Bad Breakfast.