When I was 13, I moved from Germany—where my father, a major in the U.S. Air Force, had been stationed for seven years—to a town called Niceville, in the panhandle of Florida. It was a cultural shift that hit me right in the stomach. As a family, we were used to eating out a lot, especially on the weekends, but now we had no idea where to go. Figuring out what to have for breakfast was especially difficult. In Germany, the morning meal had been either an at-home spread of hard rolls, cold cuts, jams, and butter or an elaborate officers' club buffet of scrambled eggs, casseroles, carved meats, and composed salads. In Florida, we felt lost, and for a period we resorted to heating up frozen Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches at home. Then, one Saturday morning while driving through the nearby town of Shalimar, we saw it: a bumblebee yellow, letter-tile sign towering alongside the road: waffle house.