Tuesday 8 September 2009

Breakfast : Food Worth Getting Out Of Bed For - Greg Duncan Powell

With a title like that, I was expecting great things - but the cover photo is of a boiled egg and soldiers, which is hardly ground-breaking or inspiring stuff !

The author explains in the preface that as a farmer in Australia, his daily routine involved tea and toast half an hour before dawn, then off to milk the cows until 9am, when a three-course breakfast would be served - porridge, eggs or stewed meat on toast, then toast and jam - before heading off for some more physical work then lunch. While this was great for our ancestors or for those who still have a very physical job, I think most white-collar workers - or even busy mums come to that ! - these days would have a hard job fitting this into their daily routine. Not to mention all those excess calories to burn off due to our modern sedentary lifestyle.

He goes on to say : "I truly believe that human existence would be much more pleasant if more importance was placed on breakfast. Most of the ills of the modern world can be traced back to three things : not enough sleep, not enough sex and not enough breakfast. While this book can't do much about the first two, it does aim to change the latter." (Well, as a mum to a 6-week-old baby, I guess I should be grateful for small mercies then ! ) The witty comments continue throughout the book.

Time to see what's on offer then. I consider myself to be fairly adventurous and am happy enough to sample exotic local delicacies, even first thing in the morning, but even I admit to turning my nose up at a couple of these breakfast suggestions - cabbage and oil on toast ? It doesn't sound particularly appealing at any time of day, let alone at breakfast-time ! Gehacktes -otherwise known as steak tartare ? For breakfast ?! I think I'll stick with tea and toast, however boring they may be, thanks !

I'm sure my next comment will make the author's hackles rise because it's exactly the kind of prejudice he's trying to overcome, but a lot of the recipes seem to me to be more suited to a light lunch or - dare I say it ? - brunch. For example, being married to a Frenchman, I can safely say that croque monsieur (like a cheese and ham toasty) and savoury crêpes (la galette de Brettone) are certainly not breakfast food in France - in fact, the latter is not even correct French, if you want to get really picky !!

There are recipes for more traditional breakfast fare, like muesli and granola, but to be honest, do we really need recipes for such simple dishes as stewed rhubarb, grilled mushrooms and sardines on toast ?

Some recipes did tickle my tastebuds though - banana bread and huevos rancheros sounds like a fabulous way to start the day to me ! The exotic recipe ideas and witty anecdotes providing a potted history of breakfast made it a worthwhile read.

I can see myself trying out of several of these recipes, but for lunch or supper. Sorry Mr Powell but I think I'll stick with a bowl of cornflakes and a glass of orange juice for now !

star rating : 3/5

Hardcover: 172 pages
Publisher: Murdoch Books (17 Aug 2009)
ISBN-10: 174196380X
ISBN-13: 978-1741963809

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