Wednesday, October 22, 2008

More Thoughts on Breakfast.

Most of us probably don’t think of breakfast and parties in the same breath – breakfast and the best newspaper, or breakfast and last night’s washing-up, or breakfast and one-thousand and one emails perhaps, but not breakfast and fun.

Ms. Julia Andrews, the author of Breakfast, Dinner, and Tea, viewed Classically, Poetically, and Practically (1860) the source of yesterday’s ideas and recipe, quoted several American visitors on the topic of English “breakfast parties”

Miss Sedgwick writes of the English breakfast party, that the hour appointed is from ten to eleven o'clock. “The number of guests is never allowed to exceed twelve. The entertainment is little varied from our eight o'clock breakfasts. There are coffee, tea, chocolate, toast, rolls, grated beef and eggs, and in place of our solid beef-steaks, - broiled chickens, reindeers' tongues, sweetmeats, fruit and ices. These are not bad substitutes for heavier viands, and for our variety of hot cakes. You see none of these unless it be a “muffin.”

Mrs. H. B. Stowe in mentioning a breakfast at which she was a guest in England, relates some conversation with Mr. Macaulay upon breakfast parties. She says: “Looking around the table, and seeing how everybody seemed to be enjoying themselves, I said to Macaulay that these breakfast parties were a novelty to me; that we never had them in America, but that I thought them the most delightful form of social life. He seized upon the idea as he often does, and turned it playfully inside out, and shook it upon all sides, just as one might play with the lustres of a chandelier - to see them glitter. He expatiated on the merits of breakfast parties as compared with all other parties. He said, ‘You invite a man to dinner because you must invite him ; because cause you are acquainted with his grandfather, or it is proper you should; but you invite a man to breakfast because you want to see him. You may be sure if you are invited to breakfast, there is something agreeable about you.’ - This idea struck me as very sensible; and we all, generally, having the fact before our eyes that we were invited to breakfast, approved the sentiment.”

I am not sure that a meal between 10 and 11 o’clock can rightly be called breakfast, except for the leisured classes, but brunch had not been invented yet, so it must stand as breakfast. Which reminds me that brunch must be added to the expanded list of possible Hobbit-Meals, giving us it eight.

I am totally baffled by the reindeer's tongues enjoyed by Miss Sedgwick in England, she must have been much further north than I have ever travelled in that country. As for the muffins,these would have been the “original” English muffins – made with yeast batter and cooked on a griddle. Somewhere along the way, methinks after their migration to America, they became sweeter, and turned into cakes. Here is a recipe for the English version, from the same book.

One quart of milk, one egg, salt, half a cup of yeast, table-spoon of melted butter, flour to make a thick batter. To be made late in the evening, and stand all night for breakfast, or if you wish them for tea, mix them at noon, and keep the pan in a warm place and it will rise in a few hours. Heat the griddle, then butter it and the muffin rings ; put the latter upon the griddle and pour in the batter ; turn them once only.

Quotation for the Day …

I went to a restaurant that serves "breakfast at anytime". So I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance. Stephen Wright.

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