Friday, March 16, 2007

Second Breakfast.

Today, March 16th …

The novelist Sybille Bedford was born on this day in 1911. Her surname was a legacy of her brief marriage to an Englishman – she was in fact born in Charlottenberg, (Germany) of an aristocratic German father and an Italian mother.

Sybille’s childhood was spent in Germany, England, and Italy, and she continued her International life in adulthood. She often wrote lyrically about food, and there is a superb illustration of this in her novel A Legacy, which is set amongst a community of wealthy Berlin jews.

They were at second breakfast. Second breakfast was laid every morning at eleven-fifteen on a long table in the middle of the Herrenzimmer, a dark, fully furnished room with heavily draped windows that led from an antechamber to an antechamber. The meal was chiefly for the gentlemen. They ate cold Venison with red-currant jelly, potted meats, tongue and fowl accompanied by pumpernickel toast and rye-bread, and they drank port wine. Grandmama sat with them. She had a newly-laid egg done in cream, and nibbled at some soft rolls with Spickgans, smoked breast of goose spread on butter and chopped fine. Grandpapa had a hot poussin-chicken baked for him every day in a small dish with a lid; and Cousin Markwald who had a stomach ailment ate cream of wheat, stewed sweetbreads and a special kind of rusks.

This magnificent concept of Second Breakfast is a particularly German idea (did they get it from the Hobbits, or vice-versa?). It is a meal coming between first breakfast and lunch which is too substantial to be called ‘morning tea’ (or elevenses or smoko), and yet is too early for lunch. Apparently special dishes are made just for this meal, which makes me wonder why on earth I haven’t visited Germany yet (soon, I hope, soon ..). One of the very traditional things at this meal, is, I am told Weißwurst – a white sausage made early in the day (presumably before first breakfast) to be eaten within a few hours.

I am given to believe that the average German gets through 67 pounds of sausage per year! I wonder how much of this is at Second Breakfast? We have previously looked at old recipes for Zervelat and Bratwurst from the mid-sixteenth century cookbook of Sabina Welserin, but sadly, she does not include one for Weißwurst – I hope a German reader will enlighten us here.

Here are a couple of other recipes from her book which might be very nice even for Third Breakfast, which someone really ought to invent.

A tart with plums, which can be dried or fresh
Let them cook beforehand in wine and strain them and take eggs, cinnamon and sugar. Bake the dough for the tart. That is made like so: take two eggs and beat them. Afterwards stir flour therein until it becomes a thick dough. Pour it on the table and work it well, until it is ready. After that take somewhat more than half the dough and roll it into a flat cake as wide as you would have your tart. Afterwards pour the plums on it and roll out after that the other crust and cut it up, however you would like it, and put it on top over the tart and press it together well and let it bake. So one makes the dough for a tart.

If you would bake good hollow doughnuts
Take good flour of the very best and pour on it one third quart of cream and beat eggs into it, six, seven, eight, according to how much you will make, and knead the dough as carefully as possible and roll it out very thin. Afterwards fry them, then from the inside they will rise like tiny pillows, then they are ready.

The German version of the Cookbook of Sabina Welserin is HERE.

An English transcription can be found HERE.

Monday’s Story …

Maundy Money, Maundy Food.

This Day, Last Year...

France bans absinthe.

Quotation for the Day …

I detest ... anything over-cooked, over-herbed, over-sauced, over elaborate. Nothing can go very far wrong at table as long as there is honest bread, butter, olive oil, a generous spirit, lively appetites and attention to what we are eating. Sybille Bedford.

7 comments:

Andrew said...

2nd breakfast - grief I can hardly manage a coffee! What did these people do all day - apart from eat? I imagine that there was a vast quantity of food left over - and did they change for each meal? Such a totally different way of life from today and its less than a hundred years ago...

writer said...

I get hungry around that time of the day, after an early breakfast at half past six. Some cold meat sounds just the ticket. Hold the port, though.

(From kitchen hand at verygoodcooking.blogspot - because blogger won't post my URL)

Nene Adams said...

My partner Corrie, who has some little knowledge of Germany (Holland and Germany are neighbors, after all), tells me that the Germans have thousands of different kinds of sausages, and yes, they're really a big sausage-eating country. 67 pounds sounds like a conservative estimate. :-)

James said...

Oh I do love a good dried fruit tart. You just don't see them around much anymore with all the emphasis on seasonal eating. My grandmother made the best dried apricot pie you've ever tasted. How I miss it!

The Old Foodie said...

Hello andrew, kitchenhand, nene and james - it looks like we might have enough for a committee for the promotion of Second Breakfasts! James - dried apricot pie sounds great - I dont suppose you have your grandmother's recipe?

Nene Adams said...

Second Breakfast sounds like a plan to me. :-)

Andrew, I'd venture to guess that in that time period, one's "first breakfast" (as opposed to second breakfast) would probably consist of a bowl of porridge and coffee, and perhaps rolls. It wouldn't be an elaborate meal. As for leftovers from fancy meals, the servants would get first crack, of course, but there was a huge amount of waste. Consider a dinner with twenty or more courses! But it was a mark of status to be able to put on such a spread and not be concerned about the cost or waste.

Ozzyfudd said...

Ah weisswurst! What a fantastic invention. Having spent many a summer in Germany, I used to love the breakfasts best of all. Early breakfast was a variety of soft meats like braunsweiger with still-warm Semmel rolls and cheeses, late breakfast was weisswurst, any leftover rolls, and wonderful country mustards. Weisswurst is extremely difficult to make properly, as it involves a complex emulsification process with several key temperature stages. The result however is very mild and savory, usually boiled and served still in the hot water in a giant covered dish. The sausages are sliced lengthwise then the meat is peeled out of the casing, which is usually a thick, clear, natural casing.