And the Best Breakfast is … Sardines? Beets?

Breakfast either is or isn’t the most important meal of the day. It depends on who’s paying for the scientific study. Nutritionists continue to argue about that now, but I was brought up being told it was, and was served a bowl of Kellogg’s most mornings.

Even at the age of 6, I was skeptical: How could cornflakes be the most important meal of the day?

Now my breakfast is a glass of grapefruit juice, one antidepressant, one antihistamine, one giant smelly vitamin and a cup of coffee with lots of milk. I consider this a step up from my 20s when breakfast was a can of Diet Coke and three Tylenol.

Most of us start the day with coffee, which, thank God, has recently been found to have some health benefits: it increases energy, performance, alertness (duh) but it also has riboflavin, pantothenic acid, manganese, potassium and niacin.

But if you feel like you need a change for reasons of health, I did receive some information lately that suggested alternative breakfast foods: supposed superfoods, like acai, beets and sardines. (Sardines. The New Breakfast of Champions?) Alternatively, it suggests a Monster energy drink.

None of this sounds like something I could face in the morning. I will not be cooking up a mess of beets with a side of sardines while I listen to Morning Edition. But it made me wonder what our forebears broke fast with. 

  • For hundreds of years prior to the early 1800s, the English drank beer for breakfast. In fact, beer was known as the breakfast drink. This still sounds like a good idea.
  • Archaeological evidence suggests ancient Egyptians breakfasted on beer, bread and onions before heading off to build the Pyramids.
  • In classical Greece, the day began with a meal of barley bread dipped in wine with figs or olives.
  • The ancient Romans seem to have begun the day eating meats leftover from the night before (so don’t feel too bad about your cold pizza) along with olives, salad and a drink called mulsum, a mixture of honeyed wine and spices.
  • In the Middle Ages, eating breakfast was associated with the sin of gluttony so real men didn’t eat it.
  • In Japan, miso soup was/is a typical breakfast.
  • Lebanese ate raw leeks with bread. 

If I did have time or sufficient consciousness and coordination to chew in the morning:

  • I’d go to The Daily, which celebrated its one year anniversary yesterday,
  • or Publik Kitchen because they have the best toast in town that doesn’t involve (I like cinnamon or avocado on top) or Les Madeleines because they still have the best pastries
  • or Finn’s because they have the best pancakes. On the other hand, if I want a truly luxurious breakfast and have the time, I’d go to Caffe d’Bolla for a perfect cup of coffee.

But time is what I do not have in the morning. I’ll always opt for 10 more minutes of sleep instead of nourishment.

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Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf
Mary Brown Malouf is the late Executive Editor of Salt Lake magazine and Utah's expert on local food and dining. She still does not, however, know how to make a decent cup of coffee.

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