Breakfast comes first

by Betty Wrenn Day - Posted on Jun 26, 2013 - 02:06 PM

Photo: A typical American breakfast:  scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and fried apples. This dish was created by Mathews Yacht Club Executive Chef Mark Letchworth, Sous Chef Troy Randall and Pastry Chef Kasey Haywood. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

A typical American breakfast: scrambled eggs, bacon, toast and fried apples. This dish was created by Mathews Yacht Club Executive Chef Mark Letchworth, Sous Chef Troy Randall and Pastry Chef Kasey Haywood. Photo by Betty Wrenn Day

History of meal times and number of meals consumed makes for a fascinating study. They differ greatly from culture to culture and through all the ages of time. The socioeconomic class of those eating plays a major factor in eating practices, both in the past and the breakfast.

Let’s start with breakfast, a repast considered by nutritional experts to be the most important meal of the day. Among English speakers "breakfast" refers to the meal taken after rising from a night’s sleep. The word literally refers to breaking the fasting period of the prior night. The first use of the word "breakfast" in English was in 1463.

Eating breakfast began in the Neolithic (late stone age) era, when large stones were used to grind grains to make a sort of porridge.

During the Middle Ages, barley and hops were used to make beer which was served to hungry peasants in the morning, alongside porridge. The Roman army had a form of porridge each morning to start their day’s march. Over time the methods of breakfast have varied worldwide, but breakfast as we know it today began in the early 19th century when middle-class men started to work regular hours in offices. Prior to that period of time people would work a few hours and then eat a meal around 10 a.m. The meal would usually begin with a bowl of porridge followed by a full English breakfast of toast and eggs with bacon or fish.

An American breakfast is a reflection of the history of our country. Most traditional American breakfast items were brought here by our settlers: eggs, especially omelets, sausage and pancake-type foods which have been enjoyed since Ancient Rome and Greece according to many historians. It didn’t take the colonists long to incorporate into their breakfast corn and grits along with porridge they were used to making. However they soon changed the old fashioned porridge to what they called "Hasty Pudding" a dish made of cornmeal and molasses.