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  • 26 Dec 2014

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In Character with Matt Webber & Courtney Dillard

by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: CHRISTOPHER ONSTOTT - Matt Webber and Courtney Dillard have returned from their honeymoon with plenty of 'eggsperiences' and one adopted chicken.Last July, Northeast Portland residents Matt Webber and Courtney Dillard followed their marriage by embarking on a six-month honeymoon odyssey. They drove across the country, taking strangers to breakfast for a book titled, appropriately enough, “Breakfast With Strangers.” In Character talked to Webber and Dillard before their journey. Now they’re back, and definitely worth a second helping.

Portland Tribune: So what was your best breakfast?

Matt Webber: There’s no way I can narrow it down to one person.

Tribune: No, no. The best breakfast. I don’t care about who you interviewed.

Webber: The deluxe French toast at the Tower Cafe in Sacramento. They soak it for a day, then they double bake it. It’s like eating a piece of French toast covered in custard and fried.

Courtney Dillard: I’m not as big an eater. My favorite was actually a drink. It was in Milwaukee, Wis., and it was a beermosa, which is the workingman’s version of a mimosa: OJ and light beer.

Webber: I can tell you what the worst was. It was in Honea Path, S.C.

Tribune: Is that like a sweeter version of a medical community?

Webber: I think if you dropped the phrase homeopathic medicine anywhere within a 50-mile radius of Honea Path you’d get a blank stare. We were having breakfast at this diner, and I ordered something I’d never seen before. Fatback. And (the waitress) asked me how I wanted it.

Tribune: Lean?

Webber: She gave me the option of crisp or soft. Thinking of bacon I figured crisp is what I’d want. When it came out, imagine a solid piece of bacon fat the density of a pencil and the flavor of horribleness.

Dillard: In that same place I tried ordering a vegetarian version of a potato dish by keeping the meat out and leaving everything else in. The first time it came back to the table it had only ham with the potatoes, nothing else. I sent it back, and it came back with all the vegetables, and sausage.

Tribune: They just couldn’t imagine breakfast potatoes without some meat. Did you send it back again?

Dillard: No. Our breakfast that day was with a Civil War re-enactor so I didn’t feel comfortable putting too fine of a point on being vegetarian.

For me, the most compelling breakfast was with a man who was a former Hindu monk. We had a juice breakfast with him for two and a half hours.

Tribune: Just juice?

Dillard: Yep. He was on a cleanse.

Tribune: How many bathroom breaks?

Webber: When Ananda talks you don’t want to get up from the table.

Dillard: We all cried at the breakfast.

Tribune: Well, drinking juice and not going to the bathroom for two and a half hours. ...

Dillard: He had had a stroke so he was very slow, which was in line with his philosophy of being slow in the world unless he was on Rollerblades. He said something along the lines, “The more you slow down, the more you wake up.”

Tribune: Did a lot of people try to give you bits of advice?

Dillard: The most ridiculous advice came from my mother: “Don’t go because you’ll end up dead in a gutter.”

Tribune: So you’ve learned a great deal about breakfasts across America. Can scrambled eggs be ruined?

Webber: You can screw up a poached egg pretty easily.

Dillard: Matt didn’t have a Southern diner awareness. There aren’t a lot of diners in the South that regularly serve poached eggs.

Webber: In egg news, we

adopted a chicken. There’s a place in upstate New York called the Farm Sanctuary where they have rescued factory farm animals.

Dillard: People drop animals on their doorstep. Matt had the idea of adopting a chicken to offset our egg consumption.

Webber: Kind of like our carbon offsets.

Dillard: We went out for breakfast with the curator of the National Mustard Museum in Middleton, Wis.

Webber: So the curator brings his own mustards with him from the museum. And when the waitress asked, “Is there anything else I can get you?” Courtney said, “Can I get some ketchup, please?” The look on the curator’s face when he heard the K word. It was shock and disbelief and disgust.

Dillard: I always have ketchup with my eggs.