Remedy for the Western Breakfast

Photo credit: phil.lees via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Photo credit: phil.lees via Visualhunt.com / CC BY-NC-ND

I hate breakfast. Sweet, pasty, blech. This doesn’t mean I don’t like to eat when I first arise, because I do. Hating breakfast isn’t a recent phase; I’ve been rebelling against modern western breakfast fare since I was thirteen. Cereal with too many grams of sugar. Oatmeal. Bread and butter. Pancakes and sausage. Eggs and bacon. Croissants. Some of it I eat for convenience. I don’t like going out for breakfast – I feel it’s a waste of good money. I wish Mexican, Indian, or sushi restaurants in my neighborhood were open for breakfast. Sure, pancakes can taste great, but compared to what most of the world eats for breakfast, it’s sissy food.

I had a fourth grade teacher named Nancy Southworth at Mechanicsville Elementary. She acted as our drill sergeant, calling us all by last names. But she told us that she didn’t care what we ate for breakfast as long as we got a balanced meal. “You can eat cheeseburgers, pepperoni pizza! As long as you cover the four food groups!” Perhaps there are other downsides to the above selections, but she got us thinking outside the box.

Breakfast didn’t always used to be so sad. Here’s the breakfast menu for Baltimore’s Barnum City Hotel. It’s rather protein rich, but I’d take oysters, tripe, and fish balls for breakfast. Note the breakfast wines at the bottom of the page. Breakfast was a full blown meal.

Or try the breakfast Sheila Lukins enjoyed in Morocco: “chilled fresh orange and grapefruit juices and a choice of yogurts. Baskets of muffins, croissants, and pains au chocolat…harira, the national soup of Morocco, made with lamb, lentils, chickpeas, and vegetables…dried dates… thin honey-combed pancakes drizzled with fresh honey and melted butter…khlii aux oeufs [which are] baked eggs surrounded by … sun-dried lamb cured with garlic, coriander, oil, and vinegar” (All Around the World Cookbook, page 19). Phew, perhaps a bit much. But that Moroccan breakfast runs circles around buttered toast.

My Japanese breakfast, with hijiki seaweed, avocado, broccoli, carrot, and salmon on rice, via Hipstamatic.

My current fav is what I call Japanese breakfast. The Japanese Ministry of Health and Welfare has long recommended the consumption of 30 different foods each day.  In Japan, soup, rice, fish, vegetables, and tea are eaten for breakfast. I’ve mashed this together, placing a layer of sushi rice in a bowl and then doling out different vegetables and cooked salmon on top. A little soy sauce and it’s ready to go. I chop the vegetables and cook the rice ahead and store it in the fridge. In the morning, I heat up the rice by placing some in a colander and dumping a little hot water over it from the tea kettle. I love the clean flavors in the morning and it’s filling enough to hold you until lunch. And besides, if you don’t eat vegetables at breakfast, how will you catch up with the rest of your five servings throughout the rest of the day?

About Becky Fifield

Becky Fifield is a cultural heritage professional with 25 years experience in institutions large and small. She is currently Head of Collection Management for the Special Collections of the New York Public Library. An advocate for preventive conservation, Ms. Fifield is a Professional Associate of the American Institute for Conservation, Chair of the AIC Collection Care Network, and former Chair of Alliance for Response NYC. She is also a scholar of 18th century female unfree labor and dress. There's a bit of pun in the title The Still Room, delineating a quiet space brimming with the ingredients of memory, where consideration, analysis, and wordcraft can take place. Ms. Fifield’s interests include museum practice, dress history, historic preservation, transit, social and women’s history, food, current events, geneaology, roadtrips, and considerations on general sense of place. Becky and her husband, Dr. V, live in the Hudson Valley.