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

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