Heather Arndt Anderson’s Breakfast: A History

arendtSo if you’re really interested in all things breakfast down the centuries, Breakfast: A History is ideal for you and why this is so what I’ll detail here.

The bio for her in the book says she has the creds for writing this history: ‘Heather Arndt Anderson is a Portland, Oregon–based food writer. Her recipes have been published in the cookbook One Big Table: 600 Recipes from the Nation’s Best Home Cooks: Farmers, Fishermen, Pit-Masters, and Chefs, and she is a contributing writer to the magazines The Farmer General and Remedy Quarterly. In her food blog Voodoo & Sauce, the most popular posts are about breakfast.’

As her introductions starts off, ‘Whether a bowlful of cloying, artificially fruit-flavored O’s with milk, or a stinking pile of fermented soybeans on steamed rice, breakfast fuels hungry brains. As the old adage says, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It is the meal that makes the champion. Breakfast literally “breaks the fast” of nighttime slumber, filling one’s raging belly and providing the stamina to face the day.’

Breakfast is linguistically ‘breaking fast’, dating back to late Middle English. Every country I’ve ever been in has a breakfast of some sort such as the rotis, coconut meat flatbreads fried on a grill, and served with tea, I had in the Hill district of Sri Lanka, to the full Scottish fry-up writer Charles Stross describes here.

What do you have for breakfast? I’m fond of oatmeal with fruit along with a pot of tea, usually first blush Darjeeling. Though I will indulge several fresh-baked blueberry muffins with salted butter from time to time. And I’m not adverse several times a year after an all-night sessuin indulging in a fry-up like Stross described.

It’s an endlessly fascinating book such as this passage: ‘By the beginning of Queen Victoria’s reign in 1819, bacon and eggs had already become firmly fixed as a part of the everyday breakfast. Even among most of the English working class, bacon was ubiquitous; in fact, the only time it was not served was on sausage or ham day.’ See I how worked bacon into this review? What a history of breakfast be without bacon in it?

It’s a little more serious than my bacon joke suggests as it’s just one book in AltaMira’s Studies in Food and Gastronomy which includes such titles as Man Bites Dog: Hot Dog Culture in America and New Orleans: A Food Biography along with titles more serious in nature.

After an opening chapter that puts the subject in both a historical and social context, the rest of the book is thematically organised in the following chapters: around the world in a meal, breakfast at home, breakfast out, and breakfast in the arts and cinema. The first three chapters are the ones that really interested me, the latter was a little too, errr, academic for my tastes. (Pun intended.) It’s certainly one of the better histories on this subject I’ve read.

Oh and yes it does have a great section on that great Scots breakfast food, porridge!

(Rowman & Littlefield, 2013)

About Reynard

I’m the Pub Manager for the Green Man Pub which is located at the KInrowan Estate. I’m married to Ingrid, our Steward who’s also the Estate Buyer. If I’m off duty and in a mood for a drink, it’ll be a single malt, either Irish or Scottish, no water or ice, or possibly an Estate ale or cider.

I’m a concertina player, and unlike my wife who has a fine singing voice, I do not have anything of a singing voice anyone want to hear!