One of my favourite meals of the day is the first meal of the day, breakfast! Breakfast is classed as the most important meal of the day. Those of us who skip it realise that it affects our daily performance. I have personally discovered that on many occasion, if skipped, then by lunch time I struggle with concentration and accuracy of what I am doing. I am sure this is the case for many people who choose to do the same.
Breakfast today has become more than just cereal, cooked breakfast and toast with many variations from pancakes and syrup to chocolate cereal bars.
As with all my blogs, lets begin with a little history behind breakfast. As the name suggests, Break Fast was breaking the fast from the previous night.
An early morning meal has been taken for thousands of years going back to the Neolithic times when people then used quern-stones to grind hulled grains and then boiled them to make something similar to porridge. Workers of ancient Egypt would also eat an early morning meal of beer, bread and onions before they were put to work by the Pharaohs. In Ancient Greece, their early first meal of the day consisted of barley bread dripped in wine accompanied by figs and olives. Greeks were also known to have pancakes. In Rome, the early morning meal was known to consist of bread, cheese, olives, salad and cold meats left over from the night before, as well as drinking wine.
In the Middle Ages breakfast was not considered important, but they would have two meals during the day. One in mid morning and one early evening, though this did vary throughout Europe.
In the 13th century, Dominican priest Thomas Aquinas wrote in his Summa Theologica that breakfast committed “praepropere": a sin of eating too early, which was connected with gluttony. In this time, overindulgence and gluttony were considered wrong by the Catholic Church. The Catholics presumed that if you ate breakfast then you had other lusty appetites too. Alcohol, wine and ale were considered to be a weakness.
Breakfast in certain areas was only taken by children, the elderly, the sick and working men. Everyone else did not speak of or take part in eating in the morning. To eat breakfast meant that you were poor, or worked as a farmer or labourer who needed the meal to sustain work. Medieval people saw gluttony as a sin and a sign of weakness and men became ashamed of eating breakfast.
In the 15th century, breakfast included meat. At this point, noble men were seen to enjoy and take part in breakfast and therefore it became common practice. In the 16th-century the Europeans were introduced to caffeinated beverages and this paved the way for consideration to allow breakfast. It was believed that coffee and tea helped the body in “evacuation of superfluities" and it was therefore consumed in the morning.
In the early sixteenth century, some physicians warned against eating breakfast because they said it was not healthy to eat before a prior meal was digested. By the 1550s, however there were multiple sources that claimed breakfast was actually an essential necessary meal. In 1551 Thomas Wingfield stated that breakfast was an essential meal. In 1589, Thomas Cogan stated that it was unhealthy to miss breakfast in the morning. Mr Cogan was one of the first to claim that it was healthy for those who were not young, ill or elderly to eat breakfast. Prior to 1600, breakfast in the United Kingdom included bread, cold meat, fish and of course ale.
Today, the full English breakfast consists of bacon, sausages and eggs, often served with a variety of side dishes and a beverage such as coffee or tea.
The etiquette of breakfast is very simple. Breakfast is a sit down meal with a spoon and a starter fork and two starter knives (small); you also have a side plate and napkin. Your breakfast starts with a glass of freshly squeezed orange or apple juice. You then have a cereal, such as bran or similar, followed by the full English breakfast which always includes toast. During the meal, you would take tea or coffee. The toast should arrive with the crusts cut off and in rectangles. The reason for this is the fact you never cut toast at the table, nor should you break it. The pieces in the toast rack should be small enough to eat in a few bites. You apply the butter and condiment of your choice on the side of your plate and apply it to the toast from there. If you have larger pieces of toast, don't butter and apply your condiment all in one go, rather focus on a small piece at a time, but as mentioned you don't cut or break it.