Archive for February 22nd, 2007

Breakfast Like a King

King’s table 

I remember my parents’ doctor recommending that they eat “breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper.” Although I think that this is good advice, maybe even great advice, it is not easy to follow. Of course, like all diet and nutrition ideas, the more planning one does the easier the diet is to follow. But first, we must define what kind of meals, kings, princes, and paupers would eat.

Picture a groaning board in the great hall with silver salvers steaming with sizzling hot meats, eggs, fresh pastries, creamy butter, fruit from exotic locations, the king and queen sitting in splendor while white gloved servants bustle around, anticipating  every need. The prince and princess are in a slightly smaller room, less magnificent perhaps, with fewer gastronomic delights on their table, but still having the freshest, most tasty food available in the kingdom. In a shanty way behind the castle, when finished cooking, serving, and cleaning up from the royals’ repast, the lowly servant breaks off a crust of bread, sops up some broth, made from scraps from the castle’s kitchen, and eats just what he needs to keep alive, occasionally enjoying an apple, scrounged from an orchard along the way, or cabbage stewed in the broth.

How do we translate this into something that would fit into our modern day lifestyle? Not many of us have servants, white gloved or otherwise, at our beck and call. Neither do we have the habits that would allow us to arise early enough to prepare the gustatory wonders fit for a prince’s breakfast, much less a king’s. We are more likely to break our fasts with a pauper’s type of meal, a piece of toast, maybe a glass of juice, coffee and out the door! We have all heard and no doubt believe the adage “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day” but we still give it short shrift and spend most of our time, energy and money preparing the last meal of the day.

We do better at lunch sometimes, “treating” ourselves to a hot meal, which is more likely than not a fast food meal, with maybe a salad thrown in as a salve to our dietary conscience. I know no one who prepares a princely meal at noontime, barring holiday meals, of course. At those holiday times we come closest to having a prince’s lunch. Usually we have vegetables, meat, special treats, and afterwards eat more like a peasant that evening, if only because we are tired of being in the kitchen all day.

Most of our dinners are heavy, meat, lots of red meat, potatoes, maybe with gravy, but certainly with butter, and/or sour cream. Usually some type of common vegetable appears on the plate, peas, green beans, carrots, rarely anything “exotic”. Maybe a salad with some tomatoes, or onions, and definitely salad dressing, creamy or otherwise laden with fats and questionable additives. Ice cream, anyone? Chocolate sauce, anyone? Anyone?

I would love to awaken, find my clothes laid out, freshly laundered and ironed, have my hair styled for me, and see in the diningroom scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, sliced tomatoes, warm toast, freshly squeezed orange juice, maybe pomegranate juice, coffee or tea piping hot. I don’t need the silver salvers, or the servants. They can stay in the kitchen and start cleaning it up. I can serve myself, thank you very much. But the clean up? They can do it. Not many of us want to spend the time to clean up the kitchen after cooking such a breakfast and then rush off to work. How much more time would it take? Say fifteen minutes, minimum to prepare the food, fifteen to eat it, and another fifteen minimum to clean it up. That adds nearly an hour to the morning routine. What if you plan ahead? Sure, go ahead and set the table, get the pots/pans ready the night before. That saves little if any time. Table setting can be done internally to the cooking time, anyway. And just when you find that you can prepare scrambled eggs in just a few minutes, you read somewhere that “real” scrambled eggs should take at least twenty minutes to cook. Makes Cheerios sound better and better.

So, we settle for a bagel and cream cheese, or toast and peanut butter, cereal and milk. And rush off to spend our day.

Tomorrow, we will discuss lunch.

In the meantime, tonight’s “pauper’s dinner” is spaghetti and salad.  I made enough sauce to feed the proverbial army.  I had a meeting to attend early this evening and so I prepared the sauce early in the day and transferred it to the crockpot to keep safely warm while I was gone.  Now I am heating up the water to cook pasta and sipping a glass of Cab. sauvignon while I wait for Mac.  I think I will use some of the leftover sauce to make lasagne or some other casserole Sunday night.  I never manage to successfully freeze leftover spaghetti sauce.  I either forget to do it and the container gets shoved waaaay back in the frig until it becomes worthy of a science project, or I do freeze it and it gets shoved waaaay back in the freezer until it is so covered with freezer frost that I don’t even know what it is. As Mac says, “Plans are nothing, but planning is everything.”  I think Ike said it first. 

So, until tomorrow, happy dining.


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