CLICK ABOVE TO PLAY MUSIC
Music – “Cooking Breakfast” from Songs For The Young At Heart: Maria Muldaur by Maria Muldaur. Released: 2006
Everyone has heard that “breakfast is the most important meal of the day”. Moms everywhere have been espousing it for years and dieticians and physicians maintain that a good breakfast sets the pace for the rest of the day and provides us with the stuff we need to go out and face the world. However, according to a 2011 survey by the NPD Group, approximately 31 million Americans (10%) don’t eat breakfast (you may count me among them).
With hectic lives these days, the sit-down, family style breakfast has gone the way of the dinosaur, for the most part. The breakfast of pancakes, eggs, sausage or bacon, toast, and a big healthy glass of milk for the kids is something only seen in old re-runs of Leave it to Beaver or The Donna Reed Show, where stay at home moms in cute aprons, perfectly coiffed and wearing pearls, ensure the children will be prepared for the events of the day (Dad too, of course).
Manufacturers have jumped on the quickie breakfast trend with high protein beverages, low carb/low sugar/gluten free snack bars, microwavable sausage bits and scrambled eggs, a million varieties of cereals (although recent trends indicate cereal consumption is on the decline in America, much to the consternation of General Mills!) and many more grab and run breakfast items. Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts, McDonald’s, Burger King, etc. all have fast food breakfasts for the harried. From Breakfast Burritos to Egg McMuffins, you can have it all if you’re in a hurry.
Flash back to 1901, when life proceeded at a somewhat slower pace and eating habits were quite different from today. We tend to think that people at the turn of the century in America ate healthier, more sensible foods than we do today. So many of today’s manufactured foods are chock full of sodium, cholesterol, fats, carbohydrates and a thousand chemicals, whose names we can’t even pronounce. However, breakfast in 1901 America, although considerably different from 2015, wasn’t necessarily healthier, if you read some of the cookbooks of the time.
One in my collection is “365 Breakfast Dishes”, published in 1901 in Philadelphia by George W. Jacobs & Co., featuring recipes selected from “Mrs. Lincoln, Mrs. Lemcke, Table Talk, Boston Cooking School Magazine and Others”. Nothing like starting New Year’s Day, 1902, with a breakfast of Pork Chops with Sauce Robert. A nice conglomeration of pork, chopped onions, eggs, beef stock, vinegar, mustard and salt and pepper to taste. Some of the other suggested breakfasts throughout the year include “Fillets of Fish, Ambassador Style”, “Ragout of Veal”, “Clams Stewed in Cream”, and “Stewed Calf’s Liver”. Get up early next October 11th to fix the family Turkey Legs with Chestnut Puree, and don’t forget that before the big turkey on Christmas Day, start packing their bellies with “Cod Steaks a la Cardinale”. In a hurry? Knock out some “Broiled Pig’s Feet” or “Bobble Gash”, consisting of pork and veal pieces, fried in lard with onions and potatoes and thickened with sweet cream. Just the thing to leap into the day!
So, if you happen to get up early on Monday, August 10th, why not whip up “Salpicon a la Toulouse” for the kids: sweetbreads, butter (lots of it), beef tongue, mushrooms, truffles, Rhine wine, chicken broth, egg yolks and cream. Yum. A breakfast to put an Egg McMuffin to shame.