Breakfast

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Food

Oxford Companion to Food

By Alan Davidson

Published 2014

  • About

breakfast the first meal of the day; literally the meal with which one breaks one’s fast. Opinions have varied over the years and around the world as to what foods are suitable for this. Individual tastes play a part, and are perhaps at their strongest early in the day: chacun à son goût, as Major L. (author of Breakfasts, Luncheons and Ball Suppers, 1887) said when noting a baronet’s alleged preference for apple tart and home-brewed ale first thing in the morning. The type and quantity of food depends on the daily schedule; those who labour hard may break their fast with a drink and a little bread, followed by a larger second breakfast two or three hours later (see spain for a fine example of this practice), and guests at a ‘wedding breakfast’ will almost certainly have eaten an ordinary breakfast earlier in the day. At the same time, the double breakfast is a concept dear to Germans’ and Austrians’ hearts, with the zweite Früstück being their elevenses. None the less, the western view of the meal being (relatively) insubstantial may be countered by other cultures where it bulks larger. In korea it is indeed the principal repast; in Turkey and other parts of the Middle East, a favourite meal of sheep’s head and trotters is hardly a snack.