Monday, October 23, 2006

Problems with Breakfast


It used to be the case that the only way you'd eat well in England was to eat breakfast three times a day, and yet, these days breakfast is probably the least understood meal of the big three. You'll notice I don't include high tea, brunch, elevenses or any of the other odd, bizarre or simply anachronistic meals because they all have their issues and I'm not going to get into that now. Breakfast, as we know from mothers is the most important meal of the day and frankly a meal that I am getting increasingly concerned about getting wrong, like many many of my fellow Londoners.

There was a time when breakfast for me meant one of two things. The breakfast of champions; a coffee and a cigarette or an artery defying fry up of quite simply Herculean proportions. Heroic meals in their own right, it has to be said, but frankly limited. I've reached the age now where the notion of starting the day with a couple of things that might kill you is probably a bad idea, so I've been nosing around for the alternatives. Firstly, I have to get over the fact that my body doesn't seem to be very good at eating before about 11 o'clock. It gets grouchy, it rumbles and generally makes a nuisance of itself.

So, starting with the traditional and with the weather turning, I've been tucking into some porridge in the morning. All good and if it starts the Scottish off in the morning, it's probably no bad thing. It does sit slightly heavily over the course of an hour long commute however. Bagels seem a good option, a hint of the metropolitan, something to be eaten on the hoof , but then I'll always crave them with salt beef which strikes me as probably a bit excessive. Cereals are something that just fill me with drea. There is possibly no more boring foodstuff on God's clean earth and I avoid it when I can. The sole exception to the rule being when I've smoked too much good bud and a bowl of cornflakes with ice cold milk and sugar is the only way to fly. Since that rarely happens anymore, and is even less likely in the morning, cereals seem to be out of the breakfast equation.

Bacon, of course, is probably the ultimate breakfast food. A bacon sarnie with brown sauce, in squishy bread would be the healthiest way to start the day if I was in charge. There really isn't a more satisfying way to start the day. The smell alone is enough to get me the hell out of bed with a grin on my face and if there is black pudding in the bargain then you could probably ask me for my first born. Unfortunately, it's not, so it is relegated to weekends before the football.

Casting my net further afield I've been considering the various global options. The Ulster fry seems a little too familiar, natto looks wrong, cold cuts and fish seem a bit full on, the French thing with the bowls is a bit too tricky for someone as clumsy as me and the whole things got a bit out of proportion in the states, and they can't make porridge properly.

See the thing is I don't want to be one of those people that eats an energy bar and a can of red bull for breakfast (you know who you are, you wrong'uns). I like to think of myself at starched white linen draped tables eating kedgeree or some soft boil eggs. As an aside, anyone visiting a English country house in the 1920's or before, an Englishman serves himself breakfast, so don't sit around like a plum at the table waiting to be served, the butler will just scowl at you. I suppose that's it really, I was born in the wrong time breakfast wise, so I guess I'll have to stick to the toast and honey until I can project my kitchen back in time, like in that wierd Christopher Reeve movie where he thinks himself back to the Victorian era or something. I can't remember the name of it. Gold star if you can.


Daniel Shackelford said...

That would be Somewhere in Time a movie my wife love(d/s) and I really don't care for. I have settled into either boiled oats (yes, oatmeal) with yoghurt, pecans, honey and raisins, or whole-grain bread with salted butter and natural crunchy peanut butter. On the weekend I will have eggs with my toast, usually made by my daughter, or I will treat the whole family with juevos rancheros topped with my home-made chipotle salsa. We don't really mix it up much.

Catherine said...

ha! I actually had an energy bar for breakfast today for the first time in my life!

I can't really eat first thing when I'm rushing. On the weekends, I indulge in my childhood breakfast: boiled egg, toast with butter, tea. Perfect.

Ange said...

I'm with you, gone are the days of cigarettes & coffe or mountains of bacon & eggs when hungover. Esp now I'm pregges so I really have to be healthy. Weekdays before work I stick to a very healthy, high fibre cereal with calcium boosted milk (boring) & on the weekends try to take time out to cook something nice or go out for a stroll & a beautiful hot cooked brekky at any one of various great local cafes nearby - makes it more special when weekdays are boring & purely functional!

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