Holten: Some rules really aren't rules
There isn’t a law that says you have to eat eggs, toast, yogurt, a caramel roll or cereal for breakfast, is there? I don’t think so.
When I was in high school, more than a couple of years ago, my first-period class was usually concert band practice that always began at 8:45 a.m.
My mother would yell up the stairs for me to get out of bed around 8 a.m., and I’d actually get out of bed by 8:30, jump into a pair of jeans, boots and a T-shirt, slurp down a glass of instant breakfast while skipping through the kitchen, and arrive for band practice minutes late, every time. Meanwhile, everyone else in the band was already sitting in their chairs and properly warmed up. Still, for some reason, my band instructor put up with me … thank God for small favors.
Then again, I was involved in every activity possible in the high school except for welding — which in retrospect might have come in handy — including chorus, all sports, the student newspaper and more, and so I’m guessing that my over-involvement led my instructor, who was also our superintendent, to cut me some well-earned slack.
Still, my point is that breakfast was just a slight blip on the radar screen to me, a passing fancy, little more than a necessary nuisance and a millisecond ingestion of slightly mixed, barely palatable protein powder. And yet I survived.
Proving that eating two eggs over easy with rye toast, hash browns and a chicken fried steak are, despite being tasty, not a daily requirement.
And now times for me have changed. At my current age, I prefer a good protein-based foundation to send me soaring into the day at a hit-the-ground-running pace so as to keep me up with or ahead of the daily ruckus, which is probably a “having lived in Southern California” learned response.
But what has recently developed as an “issue” is the fact that I don’t necessarily get that protein base from a traditional, egg-based breakfast but instead from a myriad of leftovers from dinner the night before, and I am utterly surprised with the number of people that take issue with that.
“You eat what for breakfast?” they ask me.
“Leftovers,” I say.
“Leftover what?” they ask.
“Leftover anything,” I say, which puzzlingly — at least to me — leads them to react to my response as they might to a leper who’d just shook their hand, a diner who’d just eaten a burger off the McDonalds floor or a father who’d just given his kid a ride to school in a swather. Not that friendly.
Yet to me it is a very logical course of action; efficient, good tasting, timely and nourishing. Much more so that the continental breakfast featuring fruit and breads that are commonly served at the “free breakfasts” offered at countless hotels across the land.
Furthermore, history supports my actions with the traditional egg-and-bacon breakfast being a fairly recent development in the global scheme of things, as even the ancient Roman legions ate everyday staples like bread, cheese, olives, salad, nuts, raisins and cold meat left over from the night before for breakfast and washed it down with wine-based drinks such as mulsum, a mixture of wine, honey and aromatic spices.
Meanwhile, peasants working for the pharaoh in ancient Egypt ate bread and onions for breakfast and washed it down with not-so-cold beer.
Then in Europe, during the Middle Ages, breakfast was not considered a necessity or an important meal and was practically nonexistent during the medieval period. In fact, monarchs and their entourages would spend lots of time around a table for meals but that was only for two formal meals a day, which were eaten at mid-day and in the evening.
In the early 16th century in Europe, some physicians warned against eating breakfast, because they said it was not healthy to eat before a prior meal was digested.
Then by the 1550s, there were multiple sources who claimed that breakfast was actually an essential and necessary meal, but prior to 1600, breakfast in Great Britain typically included bread, cold meat or fish, and ale.
Early in U.S. history, American pioneers consumed largely cornmeal-based breakfasts. Then after the Civil War it became fairly common to eat sandwiches that were made with ham and eggs. But it was not until 1897 that the first true breakfast egg-and-meat sandwich recipe was published in a cookbook.
All of which is quite unimportant in this age of Facebook and such. In fact, it reminds me of quote by Edward Norton, the actor, who said, “Instead of telling the world what you’re eating for breakfast, you can use social networking to do something that’s meaningful.”
I couldn’t agree more.
Holten is the editor of The Drill and the executive director of the North Dakota Cowboy Hall of Fame. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org