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<   No. 3354   2014-10-19   >

Comic #3354

1 {photo of an English breakfast}
1 Caption: Breakfast

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Breakfast. The first meal of the day. Or at least it should be, according to all the nutritional advice you've received, ever.

Some people habitually skip breakfast. Besides the bad things this does to one's metabolism[1], I don't really understand how people can do this. When I wake up in the morning, the very first thing my body tells me (okay, maybe the second, after "visit the bathroom") is "I need food". I'm pretty much eating something within five minutes of getting up every morning. I've just been going for the longest period I regularly go without food, so I really don't want to delay it any longer than necessary.

For breakfast I typically have cereal of some sort. I used to eat commercially produced cereal with milk, and I still do on weekends. But for regular Monday to Friday breakfasts I've taken to mixing my own unsweetened muesli from rolled oats, bran, nuts, sunflower seeds, and dried fruit (usually cranberries, but I've also used apricots, peaches, apples, and figs). Then I make a batch of fruit salad on Sunday night, and each morning scoop some of that on top of a bowl of the muesli, then add some plain unsweetened yoghurt to mix through. On weekends I vary this by having Weet-Bix (which are similar to the British Weetabix, but not the same) with milk.

Home-made muesli
Some of my home made muesli.

The main disruptions to this breakfast routine occur when I am travelling, when I am forced to have breakfast in a hotel or a cafe or pick up something to eat on the run. I'm not a huge fan of cooked breakfasts or overly large breakfasts, but I will occasionally go for eggs and toast (usually without bacon because I don't really like bacon much). And I never go for sweet things like pancakes or waffles. It may just be the way I was raised, but I can't really fathom having something that sweet for breakfast - pancakes and waffles to me are "dessert" items.

Aussie English Breakfast II
English breakfast (with Australian impostor).

My biggest breakfast issue is travelling in a place like Italy. Although I love the country dearly, I just can't get used to the idea that coffee and a sticky pastry constitute breakfast. (Probably not helped by the fact that I have never drunk coffee in my life and am not about to start.) On the other hand, lashings of eggs and sausages and mushrooms and bacon and toast in England is okay for a couple of days, but I quickly tire of it and want to go back to a simple bowl of cereal.

Swedish Danishes
Not my idea of a good breakfast.

Sometimes I have a treat, when I get up super early to go out and do something, usually photographing the sunrise. When I do this, I quickly gulp down a couple of Weet-Bix and milk, as I can't even consider the thought of waking up and leaving home without having something to eat. This is often around 5 a.m., to catch the sunrise. By about 8 a.m. when the light show is over, I'm peckish again, which means it is time for that most indulgent activity, beloved of Hobbits everywhere: second breakfast. For this I'll pick a cafe by the beach and order eggs Benedict. There is something ridiculously decadent about taking a poached egg and then smothering it in a sauce which is essentially also made of eggs. If there's the option, I'll go for smoked salmon with it, rather than ham or bacon. Mmmm.

Eggs Benedict
Eggs Benedict (variant, using bread rather than a muffin).

Breakfasts around the world vary widely. I've mentioned a few already. While southern Europe tends to go the "coffee and a pastry" route, I found hotel breakfasts in Germany to be at the other end of the heartiness spectrum, with vast arrays of meats and sausages and cheeses and heavy breads. One place I stayed in had an entire roast leg of some huge beast and a smoked fish about a metre long on the breakfast buffet table, with carving tools. In Morocco (where I was the last few weeks) the breakfast staples seemed to include olives, dates, a roti-like flatbread, honey, yoghurt, and boiled eggs. In my brief experiences in Japan, I saw breakfasts of rice, miso soup, and fish. There are countless other variations which I am not qualified to describe, from countless other cultures around the world.

Good dates
Breakfast items in Morocco: olives (green and black), prunes, dates.

A thing which seems to have become more popular in recent years (at least around where I live) is going out for a late breakfast, especially on weekends. Cafes now seem to serve breakfast menus all the way up to midday. I am constantly bemused when I go somewhere on a Sunday morning and see people sitting in cafes tucking into bacon and eggs at 11 a.m., when I've had my breakfast a good three or four hours ago and am starting to think about what to do for lunch.

Which brings up the phenomenon of brunch, which I understand is a popular thing in the USA, but hasn't really emerged in Australia yet. People eat late breakfasts, but it just seems to be called breakfast, not "brunch". Either way, if you're planning on eating something that late in the morning, I'd much prefer it to be second breakfast, both because it's cool and hobbity sounding, and because I'd be too hungry to last that late without having a good first breakfast first.

Ideally, of course, you'd want your second breakfast to be done and dusted by 11 a.m. too, so you could tuck into a proper morning tea before elevenses, anyway!

[1] According to most, if not all, nutritionists. I'm not claiming to be an expert on this, nor am I intending to present this as health advice.

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