This article originally appeared on MUNCHIES Denmark.
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Hunter S. Thompson knew that. Had he not shot himself in the head and collapsed in front of his typewriter on February 20, 2005, the idolized hedonist and gonzo journalist would have turned 80 earlier this week on July 18.
While Thompson had a disjointed, chaotic lifestyle and was chronically screwed up 24/7, he used breakfast as an anchor point—a kind of connection to reality. In a Rolling Stone article from June 3, 1976, when he was actually in the process of weighing and measuring President Jimmy Carter, Thompson got a sudden hunch and took a walk on the wild side—as was his habit. His quirky brain was in an entirely different place, and in the next paragraph, he explained the reverence he felt towards the day's first meal, and what it ideally should consist of. Here's the quote:
"I like to eat breakfast alone, and almost never before noon; anybody with a terminally jangled lifestyle needs at least one psychic anchor every twenty four hours, and mine is breakfast. In Hong Kong, Dallas, or at home—and regardless of whether or not I have been to bed—breakfast is a personal ritual that can only be properly observed alone, and in a spirit of genuine excess. The food factor should always be massive: Four bloody Marys, two grapefruits, a pot of coffee, Rangoon crêpes, a half-pound of either sausage, bacon, or corned beef-hash with diced chilies, a Spanish omelette or eggs Benedict, a quart of milk, a chopped lemon for random seasoning, and something like a slice of Key lime pie, two margaritas, and six lines of the best cocaine for dessert… Right, and there should also be two or three newspapers, all mail and messages, a telephone, a notebook for planning the next twenty four hours, and at least one source of good music… All of which should be dealt with outside, in the warmth of the hot sun, and preferably stone naked."
As an homage to history's most insane journalist, I decided to recreate his breakfast. Or maybe "create" is a more correct term, because I don't think Thompson ingested a round this staggering every morning. He was always known to exaggerate, and the preparation time alone should prevent him from starting his days like that. A round like this every morning would probably have caused him to die from the first meal of the day, long before he shot himself.
I quickly reached the conclusion that it would be downright harmful to try to ingest such excessive quantities, especially so early in the day, so I decided to share the extravagant breakfast with my friend 'Ziggy Silver', who wants to be anonymous for the purposes of this article. He is a poet and aspiring alcoholic, and has in the past assisted me during my culinary and literary escapades. And Ziggy also owns an allotment garden where we can behave like idiots without too many prying eyes.
I'd slept four hours, had a thumping hangover, and it was pissing rain on the allotments in Søborg. Essentially, it was summer in Denmark. When I opened the rusty gate to Ziggy's home, I got an ominous feeling in my body. Breakfast should be a good start of the day, and I wasn't sure Thompson's recipe would give us that.
Ziggy was more upbeat and went immediately to work making Bloody Marys and juicing us up with modern rhythms.
There were large portions of his life when Thompson stayed at hotels all over the United States. If you can order room service and get your employer to pay, it may well be possible to concoct as extensive a meal as described. But if you have to make the food yourself, you will for sure die of hunger before you reach the finish line. Although I had prepared some things from home, (I had "cheated a little," as TV chefs say), I did work in the kitchen for two solid hours. Drops of sweat ran down my forehead faster than the raindrops on the window, and my head felt very heavy. In a way, it was perfectly authentic that I had a hangover. With the amount of alcohol that Thompson drank, it must have been a chronic state for him—a life condition pure and simple.
"I'm fucking hungry, G.," said Ziggy, lighting up at the table. I told him to shut up. I get irritated when I'm hungry.
He told me a story about a biker who'd given him a guitar the day before, while I poached eggs, fried bacon, made pancakes, and boiled water for coffee. It all began to take shape.
Outside the rain still raged, but Thompson said that the food should be consumed under the open sky. In the nude. When we took off our pants and set the food on the table, I cursed the motherfucker. I don't think he has ever eaten breakfast in this shithole of a country where it rains approximately every other day. After noting that a wet lawn chair is cold to sit on when your ass is bare, we attacked the food with the same appetite that punk musicians go at the amphetamine buffet after a concert.
"This stuff is good," said Ziggy, through a mouthful of eggs benedict. "Together with the Bloody Mary, this really is the perfect start of the day for a lad from the countryside."
Crêpes Rangoon with its creamy crab filling was almost as delicious, and we smiled happily at each other while the drizzling rain descended on our naked bodies. I alternated between a Bloody Mary, a glass of milk, and a cup of coffee while I checked my email on my phone, because in our digital reality, "Two or three newspapers, mail, messages, a telephone, notebook, and a source of good music" is contained all on one small device.
"Shouldn't we have dessert soon?" asked Ziggy, nodding towards an empty plate. In no time at all, six lines of coke were lined up inside on the kitchen table. Shortly after, I wasn't cold anymore and my hands were tingling.
"I think it's time for guns now," I said, swaying a little as I stood up with my margarita in hand. Ziggy positioned a carton of juice, stared at me with wide eyes, and shot holes in the target with an air gun. Razor-sharp.
My heart pounded completely out of control when it was my turn to shoot, and I don't think I have ever felt closer to understanding what it was like to live like Hunter S. Thompson.
Back at the table, I noticed that we had forgotten to eat the pie, but it was too much for both of us. Although we had shared Thompson's breakfast, we could not squeeze another bit down, and I felt super weird. Too full, somewhat drunk, coked out, wet, naked, and with an increasing hangover, I took a large sip of my margarita to calm down. It did not help. A few moments later, I puked in a scrub.
The kitchen was a mess, there were half-eaten dishes all over the place, and I crashed on the couch. I needed to write an article, but I could barely stand up. Ziggy wasn't finished with the dessert.
While nausea overwhelmed me, I thought of another quote from Thompson: "If a thing like this is worth doing, it's worth doing right."
This apparently also applies to breakfast.
Happy birthday, old boy.
This first appeared on MUNCHIES in July 2017.