“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?” “What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?” “I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing,” he said.
A. A. Milne
The BBC History Magazine advises that the Tudors (1600s) invented breakfast (April 2013 issue) – wouldn’t you know that the Brits were responsible? – and The Breakfast Cereal Information Service – History of Breakfast – states that Neolithic Man in the Middle East (late Stone Age 9,000 B.C. to about 3,000 B.C.) used large stones to grind grains to make a sort of porridge.
Olive: A Tudor breakfast consisted of toasted bread with marmalade and some (cold) ham. Tilly they didn’t drink coffee or tea. They drank ale (beer) with most of their meals!
Tilly: Not sure about the ham – breakfast was a meagre event and comprised bread, perhaps with butter and sage. And the ale … I am rather surprised, though, that given the legacy of the Romans, that porridge wasn’t on offer at breakfast.
Roman Soldiers ate porridge – pulmentus – as a staple. In the middle ages, porridge or oatcakes peasants ate porridge or oatcakes in the morning, along with beer, made from barley and hops, though this is challenged by The Morning Advertiser: ‘During the Middle Ages, breakfast was practically non-existent for the masses …’ Unsurprisingly, religion meddled with the pleasure of such feasts – Catholic church leaders believed eating breakfast too soon was a sin associated with gluttony. Spoilsports.
Olive: In regions where they had plenty of wine and cheap bread, which they soaked in wine was a very popular breakfast (Foods in Medieval Times: 2004)…What an abuse of wine.
Tilly: But we are urged to eat when we imbibe – so soak it up.
The full cooked breakfast started in the 1920s. The English Breakfast Society says the dish should consist of back bacon, eggs, British sausage, baked beans, fried tomato, fried mushrooms, black pudding (a must) and toast. This will knock you back some 750 calories, so breakfasting like a king, lunching like a prince and dining like a pauper will be important!
Olive: We have discussed this already. That was NOT baked beans, and black pudding is just icky poo.
Tilly: Agree wholeheartedly: baked beans should not be anywhere near a good English breakfast. Black pudding -yes! But it must be a good one, spicy and crisp at the edges when cooked. White pudding is good, too … again it must be a good one. Best one I ever ate was in Ireland. I can taste it now
Bacon was included at a doctor’s decree (love that doctor!). Cereals came later, in the 19th century, and like bacon, it was on doctors’ orders. Apart from promoting general health and well-being, there was also a specific medical agenda. Dr. John Harvey Kellogg created granola and cornflakes as part of a puritan diet to suppress sexual desire and lead America away from sin: breakfast cereal was intended to save us from masturbation.
Olive: I think he failed. Don’t you?
Tilly: Whether he did or didn’t can only be open for conjecture. But what a controlling spoilsport!
But the real advantage of breakfast cereal is its convenience. Cost also plays a part – bacon and other meat products can be expensive. The ‘full Monty’ is terrific at weekends and when one doesn’t have to go to work – oh, the irony, as cooked breakfasts in general were brought about with the advent of the 9-5 working routine!
Tilly: The pity is that bacon is expensive now. But bacon butties are just the job on a cold winter’s morning.
Favourite things for breakfast? Fruit, Greek yoghourt with runny honey, croissants, scrambled eggs, crisp bacon, roasted tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding (!) and everything else you can think of! Taken later in the morning, with fun company. Try some cream cheese delights or yeast-free rolls to accompany the fruit and yoghourt and eggs, or smoked salmon.
Olive: How about sausage gravy served on biscuits? (American Biscuits not your cookies that you call biscuits) or Sausage or bacon with fried eggs and grits?
Tilly: Oh, lummee, I left the British Banger off the menu! Again, it needs to be a good quality sausage, not packed with cereal and little pork.
Cream Cheese Delights
3 eggs, separated
100g/3½ ozs cream cheese
Pinch fine sea salt
1 tsp. baking powder/cream of tartar. (Optional I don’t like it added to these or scones.)
Oven 150C 300F
Whip the egg whites and salt till stiff.
Mix the egg yolks and cream cheese till smooth. Add baking powder or cream of tartar (Or not, Preferably not).
Fold in the egg whites.
Drop medium-sized spoonsful onto greaseproof paper on a baking tray.
Bake in the middle of the oven for 20-25 minutes.
If wished, sprinkle sesame seeds (packed with selenium) or poppy seeds, sunflower seeds, chopped nuts, on top before baking. Haven’t tried chopped bacon on top, but it’s a thought …
I cup/250ml/8fl.oz flour
1 tsp baking powder (or use Self-raising flour)
½ cup/125ml/4fl.oz milk
2 tbls/30ml/1fl.oz mayonnaise – good quality or homemade mayo
Stir the milk into the mayonnaise till smooth.
Mix the flour and baking powder (if used) and stir in the milk/mayo mix – gently.
Spoon into a greased muffin pan. I line with individual paper cups to save the bother of greasing the tin!
Bake for approximately 15 minutes. Serve warm.
Baked egg and bacon is quick, easy and tasty, too.
1 egg per person
1-2 slices lean streaky bacon
Line each muffin compartment with the streaky bacon, covering the base too.
Put a slice of tomato – or sundried tomato is tasty too – in each base
Break an egg into each compartment
Top with another tomato slice
Bake for 15-20 minutes till the egg is cooked to your liking. Serve with fresh chopped fresh parsley.
Variations: add grated/sliced/chopped cheese – a good Cheddar, blue cheese, Manchego, Brie, Camembert, goat’s cheese – before putting in the first slice of tomato; add fresh herbs of your choice; add Worcester sauce or Tabasco to taste before adding the egg; add chopped (cooked) mushrooms.
Don’t spoil it with tomato ketchup or brown sauce unless you have made it yourself!
For a grander affair, have plates of smoked salmon, cheeses, cold meats. A savoury bread and butter pudding made with stale croissants is a winner too.
4-6 stale croissants, depending on size, sliced lengthways into 3 or 4 pieces
4 large eggs, beaten
¾ pint/12fl.oz/375ml/1½ cups milk
Black olives, chopped sun-dried tomatoes, crisp bacon pieces, cheese(s), chopped spring onion/scallion, sliced (cooked) mushrooms – and anything else you fancy
Mix the eggs, milk, yoghourt together. Season with black pepper. Add salt when eating – the olives, bacon and cheeses might prove sufficiently salty
Arrange the slices of croissant to slant, almost upright, with whatever you have chosen (preferably all the tasties!) with the savoury elements scattered between each slice.
Pour over the egg mix, leave to stand for five minutes.
Bake for 25 minutes or so till risen and golden.
Serve hot with plenty of fresh, chopped herbs.
Fresh orange juice – worth squeezing it yourself (delegate!) – fresh coffee, herb tisanes, a bottle of bubbles, a table in the garden … enjoy. Breakfast is the most important meal of the day The doctor says so.
April 2013 issue of BBC History Magazine
The Morning Advertiser
Breakfast Cereal Information Service – History of Breakfast
MASHED – The secret history of breakfast
Olive: Or you can just enjoy the Sausage Gravy. Easy to make.
1 pound pork breakfast sausage
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 – 2 ½ cups whole milk
Black pepper to taste
Cook the sausage in a cast iron or heavy bottom large skillet. Once done cooking, DO NOT drain off the grease. Leave it in the pan and turn the heat down to low.
Sprinkle the flour over the cooked sausage. Stir the flour into the sausage and grease, making a roux. Continue stirring for approximately 2 minutes until the flour is cooked.
Slowly pour in half of the milk, stirring it into the roux and sausage. Turn the heat up to medium and pour the rest of the milk in, stirring to incorporate. Continue to stir until the gravy has thickened. Add in black pepper, taste to adjust salt if needed.
Serve hot over warm biscuits or toast.
Reference for recipe. My Mamaw’s kitchen
Tilly: Sounds tasty – and the recipe for the ‘biscuits’?
2 cups / 473.18 all purpose flour
1 teaspoon / 4.93 ml sugar
1 tablespoon / 14.78 ml baking powder
1 teaspoon / 4.93 ml salt
8 tablespoons / 118.26 ml cubed butter
3/4 cup / 177.44 ml (more or less if needed) milk
Preheat oven to 425 °F.
In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together. Cut butter into mixture until it begins to look like cornmeal.
Make a well with flour mixture and slowly add milk into the middle. Knead dough with your fingers and add milk when necessary.
Roll out dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out to desired thickness. Cut with small biscuit cutter.
Butter bottom of skillet and place biscuits in pan. Bake for 12 minutes or until golden brown.
Tilly and Olive
Recipes can be found at: