Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2003, 11:46 PM

Testimonial number one response

Ah yes, the breakfasts at college. I remember them, Horatio. I had purchased a single expensive non-stick pan at the beginning of the semester and I assumed the role of weekend chef. I enjoyed a life of cooking and baking beyond the confines of the weekend. I could often be found skipping class to bake crumb cakes from scratch, and cookies and pies and fudge and other delights. I'll even admit to owning a bundt pan. I would cook and bake and be happy.

The weekends were the best. Weekends were breakfasts. I have this great secret to making incredibly fluffy pancakes. Those suckers would rise up a full inch or more when flipped. They were golden brown and could only be garnished with real maple syrup acquired on my annual spring foray into the hills of central Pennsylvania to Meyeresdale for the MapleFest. And you couldn't go to Meyeresdale without taking the time to traverse the tallest mountain in the state, Mt. Davis, and marvel at the view from the watchtower or just play on the boulders strewn haphazardly at its base. Ahh, but I am getting off track. I would pour and flip the perfect pancakes in my perfect pan while I would make a pound of bacon at a time in another skillet and mix the next batch of batter in a Pyrex mixing bowl by hand with a fork. Then there were the french toast mornings. Those were my favorite. If you make french toast correctly then you will not need a spatula. A good chef will take his skillet and flip the piece with a flick of the wrist and a mid-air flourish. And no display of culinary prowess would be complete without a catcher. My best friend and roommate would stand some ten to twenty feet away balancing a plate on the palm of his hand and catch the finished golden-brown morsels tossed directly from the pan through the air to his deftly wielded plate. The cheers and laughter still ring in my memory.

Unfortunately I spent all of my money on pizza and cooking supplies, and since I was paying for my own schooling when the Visa maxed out it was time that year to get another job. I did indeed begin working in a bookstore. There was a myriad of complex reasons for this, but you should know that the perpetuating of the breakfast tradition played no small role. It was magical. That year was stronger and stranger than most others I my life. The depth of feelings and tenacity of commitment were so strong and meaningful I have yet again to feel the equal. I won't explain my actions and ruin the mystique for those who were there. I will just say that I had more than one job that year, and only one of them was at a bookstore. And everyone should know that I take my work very seriously indeed.