|One Hundred and Fifty Ways to Cook Meat and Poultry
|Twenty Ways to Cook Potatoes
|One Hundred and Fifty Ways to Cook Other Vegetables
|Thirty Simple Sauces
|One Hundred and Fifty Salads
The Myrtle Reed Cook Book
THE PHILOSOPHY OF BREAKFAST
The breakfast habit is of antique origin. Presumably the primeval man arose from troubled dreams, in the first gray light of dawn, and set forth upon devious forest trails, seeking that which he might devour, while the primeval woman still slumbered in her cave. Nowadays, it is the lady herself who rises while the day is yet young, slips into a kimono, and patters out into the kitchen to light the gas flame under the breakfast food.
In this matter of breaking the fast, each house is law unto itself. There are some who demand a dinner at seven or eight in the morning, and others who consider breakfast utterly useless. The Englishman, who is still mighty on the face of the earth, eats a breakfast which would seriously tax the digestive apparatus of an ostrich or a goat, and goes on his way rejoicing.
In an English cook-book only seven years old, menus for “ideal” breakfasts are given, which run as follows:
“Devilled Drum-sticks and Eggs on the dish, Pigs Feet, Buttered Toast, Dry Toast, Brown and White Bread and Butter, Marmalade and Porridge.”
“Bloaters on Toast, Collared Tongue, Hot Buttered Toast, Dry Toast, Marmalade, Brown and White Bread and Butter, Bread and Milk.”
“Pigeon Pie, Stewed Kidney, Milk Rolls, Dry Toast, Brown and White Bread and Butter, Mustard and Cress, Milk Porridge.”
And for a “simple breakfast,”—in August, mind you!—this is especially recommended:
“Bloaters on Toast, Corned Beef, Muffins, Brown and White Bread and Butter, Marmalade, and Boiled Hominy.”
An American who ate a breakfast like that in August probably would not send his collars to the laundry more than once or twice more, but it takes all kinds of people to make up a world.
Across the Channel from the brawny Briton is the Frenchman, who, with infinitely more wisdom, begins his day with a cup of coffee and a roll. So far, so good, but his déjeuner à la fourchette at eleven or twelve is not always unobjectionable from a hygienic standpoint. The “uniform breakfast,” which is cheerfully advocated by some, may be hygienic but it is not exciting. Before the weary mental vision stretches an endless procession of breakfasts, all exactly alike, year in and year out. It is quite possible that the “no-breakfast” theory was first formulated by some one who had been, was, or was about to be a victim of this system.
The “no-breakfast” plan has much to recommend it, however. In the first place, it saves a deal of trouble. The family rises, bathes itself, puts on its spotless raiment in leisurely and untroubled fashion, and proceeds to the particular business of the day. There are no burnt toast, soggy waffles, muddy coffee, heavy muffins, or pasty breakfast food to be reckoned with. Theoretically, the energy supplied by last night’s dinner is “on tap,” waiting to be called upon. And, moreover, one is seldom hungry in the morning, and what is the use of feeding a person who is not hungry?
It has been often said, and justly, that Americans eat too much. Considering the English breakfast, however, we may metaphorically pat ourselves upon the back, for there is no one of us, surely, who taxes the Department of the Interior thus.
“What is one man’s meat is another man’s poison” has been held pointedly to refer to breakfast, for here, as nowhere else, is the individual a law unto himself. Fruit is the satisfaction of one and the distress of another; cereal is a life-giving food to one and a soggy mass of indigestibility to some one else; and coffee, which is really most innocent when properly made, has lately taken much blame for sins not its own.
Quite often the discomfort caused by the ill-advised combination of acid fruit with a starchy cereal has been attributed to the clear, amber beverage which probably was the much-vaunted “nectar of the gods.” Coffee with cream in it may be wrong for some people who could use boiling milk with impunity.
For a woman who spends the early part of the day at home, the omission of breakfast may be salutary. When hunger seizes her, she is within reach of her own kitchen, where proper foods may be properly cooked, but for a business woman or man the plan is little less than suicidal. Mr. Man may, indeed, go down town in comfort, with no thought of food, but, no later than noon, he is keenly desirous of interior decoration. Within his reach there is, usually, but the lunch counter, where, in company with other hapless humans, he sustains himself with leathery pie, coffee which never met the coffee bean, and the durable doughnut of commerce. The result is—to put it mildly—discontent, which seemingly has no adequate cause.
It is better, by far, for Mr. Man to eat a breakfast which shall contain the proteids, carbohydrates, phosphates, and starches that he will require during the day, and omit the noon luncheon entirely, except, perhaps, for a bit of fruit. Moreover, a dainty breakfast, daintily served, has a distinct æsthetic value. The temper of the individual escorted to the front door by a devoted spouse has more than a little to do with the temper of the selfsame individual who is let in at night by the aforesaid D. S.
Many a man is confronted in the morning by an untidy, ill-cooked breakfast, a frowsy woman and a still frowsier baby, and, too often, by querulous whinings and complaints.
The ancient Britons had a pleasing arrangement which they called “The Truce of God.” By this, there was no fighting whatever, no matter what the provocation, between sunset on Wednesday and sunrise on Monday. This gave time for other affairs, and for the exercise of patience, toleration, and other virtues of the same ilk.
Many a household might take a leaf from this book to good advantage. Settle all differences after dinner, since at no time of the day is man in more reasonable mood, and ordain a “Truce of God” from dawn until after dinner.