Breakfast: A History (The Meals Series)

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9780759121638: Breakfast: A History (The Meals Series)
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From corn flakes to pancakes, Breakfast: A History explores this “most important meal of the day” as a social and gastronomic phenomenon. It explains how and why the meal emerged, what is eaten commonly in this meal across the globe, why certain foods are considered indispensable, and how it has been depicted in art and media. Heather Arndt Anderson’s detail-rich, culturally revealing, and entertaining narrative thoroughly satisfies.

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About the Author:

Heather Arndt Anderson is a Portland, Oregon–based food writer. Her recipes have been published in the cookbook One Big Table: 600 Recipes from the Nation's Best Home Cooks, Farmers, Fishermen, Pit-Masters, and Chefs, and she is a contributing writer to the magazines The Farmer General and Remedy Quarterly. In her food blog, Voodoo & Sauce, the most popular posts are about breakfast.

Review:

Modern nutritionists proclaim breakfast the day’s most important meal, yet many Americans eat it on the run, if at all, and they exhibit little consistency in the foods they consume. In that, they’re much like people the world over. Arndt-Anderson surveys the history of breakfast, finding that over the centuries ideas about breakfast foods have run the gamut from simple cereals to elaborate repasts of meat, eggs, cheese, fruits, and vegetables. She recounts the story of the Kelloggs, whose unintended invention of cornflakes made dry cereal a staple in Western culture. The Chinese have always exhibited a fondness for rice gruel as their source of morning energy. Where people consume breakfast has evolved over the years, yielding a twentieth-century architectural innovation: the breakfast nook. Today people often dine out for breakfast, so the author catalogs various breakfast settings from fast-food restaurants to elegant venues for power breakfasts. She even details breakfasts in space and on death row.
(Booklist)

Though often hailed as the most important meal of the day, breakfast has not always been a universal custom. Food writer Arndt Anderson follows the evolution of the meal throughout history, comparing differences among cultures and explaining the origins of dishes commonly found on the breakfast table. Going all the way back to antiquity, the author begins with the societal transformations that led to the adoption of breakfast and explores the factors that resulted in changes to the meal, such as religion and the discovery of tea, coffee, and chocolate. The chapter 'Around the World in a Meal,' for instance, covers familiar foods such as cereals, eggs, bacon, and pastries, as well as those eaten in other countries. Arndt Anderson also examines how the preparation of breakfast in the home has varied over time, influenced by advances in technology and women’s changing roles. VERDICT The average reader will enjoy the insights into the roots of familiar foods, this book will mainly appeal to the dedicated reader with a specific interest in the subject. (Library Journal)

According to author Arndt Anderson, J.R.R. Tolkien’s hobbits had it right all along when it comes to breakfast. Their lives in the shire afforded them six meals a day, “three of which [occurred] before lunch: breakfast, second breakfast, and elevenses...” In this literary paean to the morning meal, Anderson provides historical, social, and cultural perspectives on breakfast consumption. She occasionally references foods traditionally eaten in other countries, looking at jook (rice porridge) in China, for example, and platters of feta, olives, figs, and cucumbers or fresh flatbread with labneh (spreadable yogurt cheese) in the Middle East. For the most part, however, the author focuses on matutinal meals in the United States and by extension England. She gives beverages such as coffee, tea and orange juice their due and provides significant background on the major players in the cold-cereal industry like Kellogg and Post. Further exploration of the physical spaces where people eat breakfast—coffeehouses, diners, mess halls and school cafeterias—enliven the narrative as well. Though Arndt Anderson’s writing has pop culture undertones and the subject may appeal to a wide market, the price and format of the book suggest it’s best suited in a specialized setting. Photos. (Publishers Weekly)

Food writer Arndt Anderson has authored the first book of the publisher's new 'Meals Series.' In five thematic chapters encompassing multiple geographic areas and time periods, the book provides plenty of interesting details about the first meal of the day. Topics range from what people called breakfast, the time of day they ate, staple foods, and locations for eating the meal to, finally, the role of breakfast in popular culture. While focusing primarily on the US and England, the author includes information about non-Western foodways as well as surveys of early food practices, with discussions about Rome, Greece, and other pre-Columbian civilizations. Secondary sources account for the majority of citations, and the book needs more analysis to provide depth or context for the range of facts presented. Undergraduates may struggle with undefined terminology. The suppositions (for example, a hypothetical question about the suitability of the breakfast eaten by domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh the morning he attacked the Murrah Federal Building) highlight the casual nature of the book. With interesting information but little analysis, this book best serves a general readership. Summing Up: Recommended. Public libraries. (CHOICE)

Our 'most important meal of the day' hasn't always been held in such high regard. Arndt Anderson shares the back story of our favorite morning meals in her book. (New York Post)

There’s more to breakfast than just bacon and eggs. This book dishes up the complete history of the morning meal, from its disgraced days as a sign of gluttony in medieval Europe to its current status as a daily essential. Anderson looks at American eats, like cold cereals, and dishes served in other countries, such as rice porridge and cheese platters. Plus, you’ll pick up pop culture tidbits and follow the rise of the breakfast sandwich to fast-food fame. (Reminisce)

Heather Arndt Anderson gives us an entertaining and lucid account of the world’s most important meal! We’ve been waiting for an expert like her to shed light on the ways that people around the world break their fast. (Andrea L. Broomfield, author of Food and Cooking in Victorian England: A History)

I started reading Heather Arndt Anderson's Breakfast: A History while sipping my morning coffee and chewing on a bagel schmeared with cream cheese. I couldn't put the book down. It is well researched and brims with surprising facts placed into a broader historical and global context. It's a must-read for culinary historians as well as for breakfast lovers. (Andrew F. Smith, culinary historian)

Breakfast: A History is at once sweet and savory as well as witty and well informed. It's enough to make this confirmed night-owl think about rising earlier each morning.

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