If the phrase "hobo breakfast" has you thinking of a Chaplin-esque tramp boiling a shoe or drinking a hearty libation, well, you're not completely off. The Italian Heritage Dante Association's Sunday fundraiser will involve boiling food and a cocktail, but it's much tastier than it sounds.
This hobo breakfast will offer a bloody Mary or mimosa as well as a full meal whose main element features a cooking method that's a campout favorite: boiling the eggs.
"It's a very healthy and easy way to cook an omelet," said Glenn Holland, who will serve as chef for Sunday's event. "You take a boilable bag, two eggs and any products that you would have in an omelet. Fill it half the way full, push out the air. Boil it 15 minutes. About 10 minutes in, you pull the bag out with rubber-tipped tongs, squeeze it together a bit. The key is taking the air out of it. Because of the shape of the bag, it comes out looking like a regular omelet."
Holland first saw the cooking method at the Moose Lodge in Pismo Beach.
"After I saw it once before several years ago, I did it at the Moose Lodge in Bakersfield here. I've done it several times since. ... I've introduced some friends to it, and they have a reunion and they do it now."
Holland has been a member of the Italian association for about 15 years and also belongs to the local Moose Lodge, both of which benefit from his love of cooking.
"I periodically cook breakfast and dinner to help them out and raise money."
As a senior loan officer for Prime Lending, Holland said the extent of his culinary training is "standing over a stove and just enjoying the heck out of it."
Much of the joy he derives from cooking comes from pleasing the hungry masses, so he's offering a variety of fillings this weekend.
"We're going to have bacon, sausage, ham, mushroom, green onion, regular onion, a couple different types of cheese. We do popcorn shrimp, nice and small. They give you the flavor without the moisture. And we'll have imitation crab."
The breakfast includes country-fried potatoes with onions and bell peppers as well as biscuits and gravy. Along with the aforementioned cocktails, beverage choices include orange juice, milk and coffee.
The Italian Heritage Dante Association is hoping for a good turnout and that starts at the top with the group's president, Mike Brancato.
"This is the first time that I personally am going to attend his (Holland's) breakfast," Brancato said. "I've missed the last two. But I cut my vacation short to be here; I was going to be in Idaho."
Brancato assumed office just this year, so he said he's focusing on getting the word out on what the group offers to the community. Along with breakfasts and dinners open to the public, the organization staffs a concessions booth at the Kern County Fair, and holds an annual golf tournament and picnic, which this year has moved from May to October and is now branded the Fall Festival. Also new this year are classes promoting Italian language and culture, open to anyone.
"We're offering Italian language classes. We just started it. Looking for a good showing for the fall semester. I'm hoping it will be a continuing education."
Speaking of education, fundraisers like Sunday's breakfast help the group fund scholarships for local college-bound students of Italian heritage.
"The more we get, the more we can give. At all of our different functions, we allocate a percentage we pull throughout the year to put money into scholarships. ... Any leftover money helps rebuild the club, promote our language and our heritage."
Brancato said it's tough to gauge the need for the awards, which range from a $2,000 top scholarship to several $1,000 honors.
"Some years we don't have enough kids applying. It's disappointing that the kids don't apply. The schools are emailed the scholarship application, so the counselors have them on file. Or they can go on our website. ... When there were only four or five schools in town, it was easy."
Although this year's scholarships will be awarded at the association's next monthly dinner, students can plan ahead by checking out the details on italian-heritage.com. The website also has information on how to become a member of the Italian association.