As I am certain you know, it is often said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. I quite agree though perhaps not for the nutritional or medical reasons that are as regularly recited. Mine is rather a preference which combines social, psychological and cosmetic elements. Breakfast has for me the equivalence of a religious ceremony, an amalgam of zealousness, fastidiousness, piety and tradition. Its celestial nature is captured in its recognizable purification and overall uplifting character. He or she who is well and properly fed at the start of the day is ready to undertake the challenges of a devoted aspirant!
Contrary I believe to what is the British standard, breakfast for me is not a time for solitary confinement, unaided and unobstructed by staff, affording a so-called quiet time to recover from the whiskey, to pore over one’s favourite journalism, java and tea and whatever rarity or mash-up of food is desired. Since a very tender age I have sat at table with a varied number of others, beginning with ten and declining to six. This represents breakfast in the Great Hall with other school boys and subsequently breakfast in the local restaurant with business cronies (the latter convention having ensued every day of the business week for thirty years). In prep school the boys took turns “fagging” to deliver the hot plates to table from the kitchen nook; at the restaurant the waitresses were like senior members of the family upon whom was ordained the steerage and management of the sanctified goods. We as routinely sat in the same place every day much like parishioners in one’s established pew at Matins. There was always a gaiety of conversation at table. Seldom did the tone descend to anything approaching inordinate seriousness or demanding of narrow thought. It was frequently a time for quips, bawdy humour and friendly personal jabs. The conflab set the stage for a mirthful regard of what was to follow throughout one’s day.
It has forever been the secret to inspirational analysis to dissect from the common fodder a token gem. Likewise hidden within the breakfast tradition are aspects of pragmatism, foresight, optimism and advantage. Not every breakfast for example would pass the current test of healthfulness. At my advanced age of 72 I have at least the privilege to snap my fingers at such discrediting views. This is even more forcefully asserted when recalling that I have already had open-heart surgery and presently suffer the indignity of heart disease. Yet such is the boundless enthusiasm and gusto for life that one is guided ultimately not by precision or fact but rather by impetus and desire, two very different throttles. Breakfast is similarly a time to replenish one’s bounty of indulgences. For example, mine this morning was distinguished by double-thick bacon, creamy ripened cheese on a toasted baguette bagel and a gooey butter tart! There was as well the contrary flavour of a crisp green apple and strong, black coffee.
What it is that complements the breakfast ceremony is as varied as its conversation and its sideboard. Presently I augment the routine with music. I tend to the more orthodox composers and oddly prefer oratorios and masses. Within this elevated context is a custom of reading (currently Le Livre de mon ami by Anatole France) or writing (another of my matutinal habits which I have discovered is likewise enhanced by repetition). In fairness I must report that the preamble to all this surplusage was a bicycle ride for about 8 km (during which I suffered a flat tire and was forced to return home in very unseemly manner, first on a deteriorated back tyre and wobble and latterly in less than athletic hobble).