Love in the Time of Coriander

Thoughts on food & more.

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Breakfast, Anyone?

Breakfast may be a subject of debate that rages throughout E's & my life together.

Let me just preface this blog by saying that E is much more a rule-oriented person than I am. He believes that there are right and wrong things to do. When it is pointed out to him, he is also capable of admitting that what he believes is right is usually more of opinion, reflective of the way he was raised.

For E, it is important to adhere to the rules of what foods are appropriate for breakfast. Usually, it is E that wanders into the kitchen first after waking. I linger a little longer, washing my face, readying myself for the day. His first order of business is to put the kettle on for coffee. He then searches the cupboards for 9-grain cereal (his favorite), oatmeal or granola. Sometimes, when we are out of these things or if he is feeling a bit adventuresome, E will toast a slice of Vital Vittles and spread yogurt and jam on it. This is breakfast. This makes him quite content.

I, on the other hand, will eat anything for breakfast. Well, almost anything. I remember my cousin Kitu told me he had a tough time living in Kolkata for a few months. Though he was brought up in India and accustomed to its myriad of breakfast choices, he was unequipped with what he described as a fish and jalebi (deep-friend sugared dough pastry) meal. This does not sound appetizing to me--for breakfast or for any other meal!

But E is right to characterize me as a free "breakfast" bird. Yup, I am one of those people who eats leftover pizza for breakfast. This, because it is more of an American thing-to-do, doesn't bother E as much. But here's where it gets weird. I'll eat burritos slathered in salsa and hot sauce, the previous evening's Kung Pao chicken with rice, pasta salad, curry, and grilled cheese sandwiches at 8am--all of which sound a helluva lot more appealing to me that 9-grain cereal. Actually, one of my favorite weekend activities in Berkeley is to go to the Thai temple (see my previous blog) on Sunday morning for brunch. The temple's many patrons would suggest that I am not alone in my love of savory (even spicy) foods for the first meal of the day.

Regardless, E is always trying to gather fodder to prove that my breakfast tastes are an aberrance. He queried several sets of friends. "Do you do this? Is this normal behavior?" They all agreed that breakfast was a meal with more restrictive guidelines for food. They, too, are believers in toast, eggs, granola, etc. E was tickled when Rhys remarked about my habits, "I think that's an Asian thing." I'm willing to accept that. Actually, I'll embrace it.

I did some research about what people around the world eat for breakfast. Examining European breakfasts, especially, I realized that a facet of our grab-a-muffin-and-go hails from the French style of having only coffee with a single pastry for the petit dejeuner. In contrast, we also inhereit a not-so-petite breakfast from the United Kingdom, consisting in meats and hearty breads (with raisins). Another interesting observation, too, is that colonialism has largely brought European-style breakfasts to Africa and Asia, though the villagers and more indigent folks continue to eat their cheaper local cuisines.

I thought it might be fun to end this blog with a few facts about what people eat around the world for breakfast.

Africa: Breakfast usually includes uji, a thin gruel made of cassava, millet, rice or corn. Cornmeal is most common. Depending upon the poverty of the region and availability of other things, fruits, peanuts, or meat are also part of the meal.

Australia: Toast topped with spaghetti, baked beans, and bacon. (Wow! That's fascinating!)

Bulgaria: Tea or Turkish coffee, sesame bread and butter, sheep's milk cheese, honey, olives, tomatoes, boiled eggs .

China: Little distinction is made between breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Often a rice with vegetables and meat is served. In Canton, dim sum and congee are popular.

France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg: Coffee and some type of bread or pastry.

India: Khichri (rice, lentils & spices). Interestingly, the English when in India adopted their own version with haddock, cream and eggs, calling it kedgeree. Other foods include dosas (crepe-like cakes filled with potatoes, meat, or veggies) and idli (steamed fermented rice cakes). Generally, chai and coffee are also consumed in the morning with the meal.

Ireland: Fried meat, white and black puddings with the array of meats, Irish soda bread sprinkled with golden and brown raisins.

Scotland: Oatcakes, scones, porridge, Arbroath smokies (small gutted haddock, salted or pickled before being smoked) eaten with lemon juice, black pepper, brown bread and butter.

Scandinavia: Cereal, eggs, breads with butter and jam, cold cuts, cheeses, yogurt, fruits, coffee or hot chocolate.


At 4:42 PM, Blogger Modern Day Hermit said...

I have to agree with you, why eat some cold, semi-tasteless cereal in the morning when you can have some basmati rice or bread with a steaming bowl of curry?

I am not much on American breakfast foods unless it is Sunday and I'm at a restaurant having eggs, sausage, chicken fried steak smothered in gravy or biscuits. Or, perhaps some oatmeal cooked on the stove with milk and served with a slice of toast. Yum!

One of my favorite breakfast foods are thick, Punjabi Parathas. Oh boy! With some lightly spiced, whole, yogurt. Heaven!

At 2:48 AM, Blogger Red A said...

Chinese breakfast foods (at least in Taiwan) is very different from lunch or dinner, though these foods can be included in other meals. They include:

you tiao / shaio bing
soy milk
various "breakfast burriots" dan bing
turnip cakes
pot stickers
various dumplings

You won't be able to get a porkchop and rice meal for breakfast.

And nowadays, American style breakfast are in: breakfast sandwiches, pitas, etc.

Personally, I like cold noodles with peanut sfor breakfast, though I add non-traditional tabasco sauce to it.

At 3:44 AM, Blogger B-gjengen said...

As for scandinavian breakfast - oatmeal porrigde! Very common. And we like to eat it with sour thick (femented) milk. My first memories are coming downstairs to eat breakfast with dad - (and that was porridge, yes very definetly porridge.) Then it was my job to go upstairs with tea and toast to my english mum (probably pregnant) in bed. Norwegians also love their brown goat-cheese - a must on their lunch-sandwiches or their dried "knekkebroed".


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