An Ode to Breakfast

Now that Parks and Recreation is over, I feel that it is my obligation – nay, my duty – to report on the greatest bit of wisdom Leslie Knope ever taught us – that breakfast food is, quite simply, the best (and all those who do not like it are “idiots”).

Alas, who does not like breakfast food? My every waking thought is approximately 50% breakfast-food, the other 50% taken up with wishing I were asleep, wondering what people are up to in Japan or thinking about different food.

When you wake up, there is little to console and motivate – breakfast is like God’s medicine for that. Nothing but the thought of breakfast food (okay, and a salary… and the need to be proactive) makes me want to get up, throw on falling-apart, dusty clothes, climb onto a falling-apart, dusty train and thus clamber into my, admittedly, quite well put-together, clean office chair. Nothing, except for the lure of the coffee shops lined up outside my office building. The promise of Bran Flakes sitting underneath my desk. I have reached that somewhat scarily mature age now where Bran Flakes are not a form of medieval torture and are in fact an enjoyable and lovely fibre-tastic cereal. Bran and I have matured. Bran and I are committed. Bran and I are the British equivalent of Leslie and waffles.

Something which was terrifically hard to adjust to, when travelling in Asia, is the fact that breakfast simply does not exist. IT DOES NOT EXIST. I would rally myself into school every morning to find myself surrounded by my fellow staff members eating curries and noodles at 9am, a practice which I could not bring myself to copy. Similarly whilst traversing the fields of Japan I visited several traditional Japanese homes and was served humongous meals for the first, much-desired meal of the day. This of course was incredibly generous and hospitable of my hosts, but a whole salmon, some rice, miso soup and a plate of vegetables is just a little much for me in the morning. Absolutely beloved after midday but first thing, when there’s still sleep in your eyes and the whole of your insides are crying and you feel quite a lot like an ex-vampire in rehab? Nope. I need, to be frank, the carbs. A bath of carbs. In Japan, a loaf of bread consists of four slices. FOUR, MEAGRE SLICES. I probably inhale four slices of bread through my nose accidentally every day, when I wander into the supermarket at lunchtime to sniff (very heavily) the freshly-baked aisle, looking like some sort of carbs-substituted-for-crack addict. This practice cannot be mimicked abroad. Where are the sweet oats and the soft, coaxing songs of buttered toast? Where is the array of jams and the occasional scone or crumpet? The cheeky bit of bacon? This is the one area in which I found Asia failed cataclysmically: leaving breakfast behind was like leaving a limb behind, or a husband, something I lamented upon daily (until, of course, it got to lunch).

No, Europe is indeed the King of breakfasting. In fact, breakfast-fooding is one of the areas in which I rate the UK amongst the top ranks. My patriotism is founded within the golden coat of a hash brown and the sweet sultanas of a scone. France performs similarly. I have never met a person who actively dislikes croissants and brioche, the most elegant things you can do with the pastry form. France make breakfasting look like a delicate enterprise, as opposed to falling into a bowl of whatever and smushing your Ready Brek around your face like a tyrant, guzzling tea from a flask like you’re a newly connected Energizer battery, which is what we in Britain seem to do. And what about Germany? German breakfasts epitomise the hearty and wholesome with their giant pretzels, Bratwurst and assorted fruits. Some of my best “breakfast memories” (yes, I really am that sad) have been from German inns, in which you feed yourself with food that genuinely makes you feel like you’re throwing hugs down to your stomach which will, in turn, share the love with your desire to actually do stuff that day. It seems that the UK, France and Germany are in some sort of little, breakfast-bossing triad, sitting as smug neighbours together, reigning monarchs of the Great World Breakfast-Off.

I have never been to America, but if Leslie Knope’s words are anything to go by, they share this triad’s penchant for good breakfasting. And, like all (kind of unhealthy) food that crosses over the pond to the big US, they seem to take it to the next level. Giant waffles smothered in berries. Pancakes sporting syrup rivers. Poptarts – though I can no longer eat these, as after adopting a somewhat (ironically) healthy schedule I can literally taste the chemicals fizzing in my mouth and my teeth falling out on consumption.
Yes, breakfast is a blessing. They should officially rename the whole procedure Blesséd Breakfast. Breakfast is a comfort in the midst of otherwise comfortless mornings. Breakfast should be savored and loved, not anxiously deep-throated on the way out of your door, flailing your keys around in haphazard terror. Leslie Knope knows this. And if Knope knows, you must know. It is public Knopeage.

A day doesn’t begin without your morning dins.

Or (on your birthday):

A day doesn’t begin without your morning dins (or gin).

But only on your birthday. You don’t want to develop a problem.

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