Breakfast has resisted globalisation, until now
On her long and ultimately doomed slog to become president, Hillary Clinton started most days in the same way: with scrambled egg whites and vegetables that she would perk up with some fresh jalapeños, if available. Failing that, the hot sauce she carried with her at all times and some salsa did the trick. For any other meal, such repeat behaviour would seem weird, at least in a rich country where a glut of dining options is available. Yet breakfast is the one meal where a thoroughly unadventurous spirit is acceptable.
Some, like Clinton, opt for an almost-identical breakfast each day. Others cycle between a few predetermined options. Many keep returning to what they ate growing up. Even those brave enough to sample every new flavour when travelling often choose to start their day with something familiar. Hotels in Vietnam cook bacon and eggs for American tourists; in Hawaii sushi and miso soup are available for Japanese visitors. The reticence runs both ways, says Paul French, an expert on China. After more than two decades living there, he, like most expats, could not abide congee, a savoury porridge served in the morning.
The conservatism of breakfast is all the more striking given the way in which people devour foreign dishes at other times of day. Countries such as Britain and America have embraced cooking imported by a wealth of migrant groups. Londoners eat Japanese sushi for lunch, Indian (or more probably Bangladeshi) curries for dinner and Turkish kebabs when drunk and ravenous; New Yorkers devour everything from ferocious Laotian larb to Ethiopian injera. At home, too, their cooking has globalised. Pasta is such a staple now that it barely even seems foreign. Middle-class Western foodies can whip up a plate of tahini-laced, pomegranate-sprinkled, coriander-flecked aubergine inspired by Yotam Ottolenghi. But most are less hungry for foreign flavours early in the day.
This reluctance is found all around the world. But few unifying rules govern what you will get for breakfast. Every country has its own staples: pho in Vietnam; miso soup and grilled fish in Japan; waffles or cereal in America; chocolate rice pudding topped with dried salted fish in the Philippines. It may be plentiful or scanty. The English pride themselves on the heartiness of their fry-ups. The French dismiss breakfast as petit déjeuner, literally “little lunch”, says Seb Emina, the British author of “The Breakfast Bible” who now lives in Paris. Some of the most sophisticated cuisines have surprisingly boring breakfasts. Contrast the bounty and glory of Italy’s food with the pitiful cookies and coffee with which most Italians start the day.
这种不情愿是世界性的。但有关你早餐要吃什么的规则却不多。每个国家都有自己的主食：越南的越南粉；日本的味增汤和烤鱼；美国的华夫饼和麦片；菲律宾的巧克力糯米布丁和咸鱼干。早餐可能会有很多种也可能只有寥寥几样。英国人以自己的油煎食品种类丰富为荣。现居巴黎的英国作家塞卜·埃米纳（Seb Emina）表示，法国人认为早餐不重要并称其为petit déjeuner，字面上的意思是“小午饭”。埃米纳著有“早餐圣经”一书。最精致的菜肴中有时也有极其无聊的早餐。意大利食物的种类繁多、样式精美，而大多数意大利人的早餐是糟糕的曲奇和咖啡，二者形成鲜明的对比。
Nonetheless, within any single country, the rules dictating what constitutes an appropriate breakfast are far clearer than those that define lunch or dinner. Mention bacon and eggs in Britain and few will doubt that you are describing breakfast. Cover a slice of bread with chocolate sprinkles in the Netherlands and it is obvious which meal you have prepared. A French person would sneer at the thought of eating a croissant at any time other than morning.
Our lack of variety on the breakfast plate is partly practical. “Breakfast is a functional meal,” says Paul Rozin, a psychologist at the University of Pennsylvania, “you’re tooling up for the day.” People are in a hurry. It may be eaten undressed, even unwashed. Many consume it in silence. Audrey Hepburn’s Givenchy dress and location, outside Tiffany’s, might be unconventional, but approach to breakfast – an early morning pastry, eaten alone and on the go – is thoroughly common.
我们的早餐的单一是有着可行性的。“早餐是功能性的一餐，”宾夕法尼亚大学的心理学家保罗·罗辛（Paul Rozin）说道：“你在为接下来的一整天武装自己。”人们匆匆忙忙地吃早饭，这时的人们可能还没换衣服，甚至还没洗漱。很多人在吃早饭时保持安静。奥黛丽·赫本（Audrey Hepburn）穿着纪梵希的裙子坐在蒂凡尼门口吃早餐的场景可能并不常见，但她吃早饭的方式——一份清晨茶点，独自一人边吃边忙——却是十分常见的。
The particular social context of most breakfasts – in a private space or at home – mean that there are fewer opportunities to encounter different flavours, argues Rebecca Earle, a food historian. Without the peer pressure of friends suggesting new foods to try, or alcohol to lessen the fear of the unfamiliar, people are more timid.
食物历史学家丽贝卡·厄尔（Rebecca Earle）认为，能够仿照Yotam Ottolenghi（英国犹太裔厨师）的菜谱意味着人们鲜有机会碰到不同的味道。在没有同龄压力（朋友建议你尝试新的食物或者喝酒来缓解对陌生的恐惧）时，人们会变得胆小。
But there are psychological reasons for the reluctance to taste new foods for breakfast that lie beyond the faff of early-morning culinary creativity. People are at their most vulnerable first thing; the day has not yet properly begun and breakfast needs to be safe and reassuring. It is the most conservative meal of the day in all cultures, says Kaori O’Connor, an anthropologist who has written a book about the English breakfast. “We have fusion global food. But in all cultures there remains breakfast. It’s a sacrament with which you begin the day. You can go wacko later,” she continues, “but you want to start ‘right’ whatever that may be. You want to gird your loins; you’re emerging from sleep…You want to know that you’re getting a good start.”
In the admittedly slow-moving history of breakfasts, there is one moment of radical transformation that changed the meal for ever. For most of the 19th century, Americans ate astonishingly hearty breakfasts. Besides tea, coffee, cold ham and beef, these included “hot fish, sausages, beefsteaks, broiled fowls, fried and stewed oysters, preserved fruits, &c. &c. &c.”, according to one English traveller in the 1820s. This abundant start to the day may have been appropriate when people spent their days toiling in fields. But as they moved to office-jobs in cities, gobbling such rich food before rushing to their desks contributed to what one historian called “the great American stomach ache”.
The answer was breakfast cereals. The first example was created in 1863 by James Jackson, a doctor and disciple of Sylvester Graham (he of cracker fame). He concocted “granula”, twice-baked whole-wheat crackers, broken into small chunks. But it was John Harvey Kellogg who began the true revolution of Western breakfasts. A poverty-stricken medical student, he was annoyed at the time it took him to prepare a bowl of hot porridge: grains such as oats and buckwheat required hours of boiling and cooking to become a palatable mush. Why could he not buy cooked and ready-to-eat cereals at the grocery store?
解决方法是早餐麦片。医生詹姆斯·杰克森（James Jackson）发明了第一种麦片。他是当时的名人西尔维斯特·格雷厄姆（Sylvester Graham）的追随者。杰克森调配了“谷兰诺拉”，这是一种经两次烘焙后被切成小块的全麦饼干。但约翰·哈维·凯洛格（John Harvey Kellogg）开启了真正的西方早餐革命。约翰是一个贫穷的医学生，准备一碗热粥所要用的时间让他很生气：像燕麦、荞麦这样的谷物需要数小时的煮沸烹饪才能成为美味可口的糊。他为什么不能在食品杂货店买经过烹饪的即食麦片呢？
By the 1880s, he was running the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan, a world-renowned medical centre, spa and hotel. Celebrities came for Kellogg’s treatments: in the 1920s Johnny Weissmuller, an Olympic swimming champion and later star in the Tarzan films, was a regular visitor to the sanitarium.
到19世纪80年代时，他正经营密歇根经营战溪疗养院（the Battle Creek Sanitarium），这是一家世界闻名的医疗中心、洗浴和酒店。来凯洛格这里接受治疗的人中不乏名人：20世纪20年代时，奥运会游泳冠军约翰尼·维斯穆勒（Johnny Weissmuller）（他后来出演了人猿泰山系列电影）就是疗养院的常客。
Kellogg was an enthusiastic and early proponent of “wellness”, a concept familiar to anyone who has grimaced their way through a juice “detox”. He encouraged “biologic living”, the notion that a healthy mind, body and spirit would stave off illness and lead to a longer life. As part of their regime, patients started meals by chewing rusk-like double-baked zwieback bread. For the most part they hated it. After one woman apparently complained that she broke a tooth, Kellogg created a version that was broken into crumbs that became known as granola.
But breakfast cereals’ dominance really began when Kellogg discovered in August 1894 that stale wheat dough, when forced through rollers, turned into flakes that could be toasted and eaten. Corn worked even better. By 1896 he had secured a patent for flaking cereals.
The invention of cold, prepared cereals came at an auspicious time. The advent of refrigeration had made fresh milk readily available. A national system of transportation, in the form of both roads and railways, allowed the easy delivery of grain to factories and packets of cereal to consumers. Cereals appealed to the swelling population of city dwellers, who had more limited access to kitchens and more rigid schedules, and to growing numbers of working women. Children could pour a bowlful and make their own breakfast. Cereals also had a long shelf life.
auspicious /ɔː’spɪʃəs/ adj. auguring favorable circumstances and good luck 有望成功的。
The rapid commercialisation of cereals, however, is largely thanks to Kellogg’s brother, Will. Where John viewed cornflakes as a way to improve people’s health, Will saw a business opportunity. He added salt, malt and sugar (much to John’s outrage) which made cornflakes tastier and less prone to spoiling. He then embarked on an ambitious and inventive national advertising campaign. The rest is cereal history. In April 1906, the Kellogg brothers were producing 100 cases of cornflakes a day. Within three years they were selling 120,000.
Flaked, popped, puffed, shredded, frosted – today cereals are crunched in countries far beyond America, a rare example of a breakfast that has transcended borders. But even their practicality is not always able to overcome local sensibilities. Consumption of milk has increased in China in recent years, most notably among rich, well-educated people in cities. But cereal for breakfast there is still fairly uncommon, despite the best efforts of Western cereal companies. “Cereal is something Western brands have been trying to promote for years and failed…Chinese people hate cold milk and while the consumption of cows’ milk is growing, it’s not in cereal but in coffee and is nearly always hot,” explains Michael Zee, a British author of a book about breakfast who now lives in Shanghai. At a Best of British trade show he attended, a stand promoting Weetabix was forced to think of alternative ways to eat it, such as using it as a cracker, served with olives and parma ham.
Cereal is beginning to lose ground in its heartland too. Min¬tel, a market-research company, reckons that sales of cold cereal (as opposed to porridge) which make up 87% of the market, have declined 11% over the last five years, to a little over $9bn in 2017. Some people are worried about the sugar content. Others now find even cereals too much work. In 2015 almost 40% of millennials surveyed by Mintel dismissed cereal as an inconvenient breakfast choice because it involved cleaning up – preferring prefabricated protein bars, smoothies and breakfast sandwiches.
prefabricated /ˌpri’fæbrɪketɪd/ adj. manufactured in standard sizes to be shipped and assembled elsewhere (建筑物)预制的; 组装的。
They are, however, increasingly keen to eat breakfast outside the home, a shift that is arguably the latest significant change for the meal. According to OpenTable, a restaurant reservation website, bookings in London for breakfast increased by 275% between 2013 and 2017. In New York (where the idea of breakfast meetings started earlier) they were up 102% over the same period. Reservations for brunch were up 363% and 127% respectively.
In London a decade ago, you could get breakfast or brunch at hotels, says Adrian Valeriano of OpenTable, or you could go to a greasy-spoon café. Those in the know would eat at the Wolseley, a European-style grand café, for their eggs Benedict. But other options were limited. Today restaurants of every variety start serving first thing in the morning.
The shift marks the transformation of breakfast into a business meeting or a social meal, particularly in the form of brunch. And eating out brings with it opportunities – and social pressures – to try unfamiliar foods.
Nonetheless those trying to stretch people’s taste at breakfast understandably tread carefully. Take the bacon sandwich, a dependable British breakfast option. Go to St John Bread and Wine in east London, a restaurant that celebrates British food, and you will be served one that is a testament to tradition. The bread is thick and white, lightly charred and heavily buttered. The bacon is unsmoked and savoury; the ketchup fruity and sharp. Round the corner, at Dishoom, an Indian restaurant inspired by the cafés of Mumbai, tradition takes a hit. The bacon comes wrapped in naan bread, puffy and scorched, smeared with cream cheese and chilli jam and garlanded with coriander. It is delicious. Just close enough to the norm of a bacon sandwich to be recognisable, just far enough to feel exciting.
尽管如此，人们对于丰富早餐口味的尝试仍然小心翼翼。以培根三明治这种常见的英式早餐食物为例。伦敦东部的St John Bread and Wine是一家英式餐厅，您可以品尝到最为正宗的培根三明治。面包厚而白，稍作烤制并抹上厚厚的黄油。培根未经熏制，美味可口。番茄酱果味浓郁。而拐角处的Dishoom是一家灵感来源于孟买咖啡馆、菜肴不受传统束缚的印度餐厅，它并未采取培根三明治的传统做法。包裹着培根的囊被烤至松软，抹上奶油芝士和辣椒酱，再用香菜点缀。这种做法既没有将传统三明治培根的做法改得面目全非，也没有完全循规蹈矩一成不变，在带给人们新鲜感的同时又足够美味。
scorch [skɔ:tʃ] v. become superficially burned烧焦
It is a balance that the restaurant’s founders considered carefully. Shamil Thakrar makes no pretence that the bacon naan is authentically Indian. But it is familiar enough to draw people in for breakfast. Served with an egg, it is their bestselling item. The popularity of their breakfast offerings thus far (about 20% of their customers come for them) has inspired Thakrar to greater adventurousness; he is thinking about putting scrambled eggs mixed with brains on the menu. But he has been cautious. In India, nalli nihari, a spiced lamb curry that can be served with brains, is a breakfast dish; at Dishoom it is only on the menu after noon.
这是餐厅创始人深思熟虑后的平衡之举。沙米尔•塔克拉尔(Shamil Thakrar)没有宣称培根馕饼是正宗的印度菜，但与传统相近的做法足以吸引人们前来享用早餐。配上一个鸡蛋，这是他们最畅销的菜品。因为他们的早餐供应大受欢迎（约20%的顾客为此而来），塔克拉尔决定做出更大的冒险尝试：他正考虑研制一道混合炒鸡蛋和脑花的菜肴，但他很谨慎。在印度，秘制羊肉汤（nalli nihari）是一道早餐菜，在咖喱羊肉中加入香料，可以配上脑花。而在Dishoom，这道菜午后才会供应。
译注：Nalli Nihari 是先在锅里把带骨羊肉炖好，然后在平底锅里，加热酥油和火辣咖喱，再加入姜蒜蓉、孜然粉、黄辣椒粉、姜黄粉、香菜粉拌匀。将煮好的羊肉放入混合物中，加入一些肉汤，味道鲜美，让人难忘。
A rare few breakfasters are becoming more adventurous at home. Zee is the creator of SymmetryBreakfast, an Instagram account and spin-off book, which chronicles the identical spreads he has prepared each morning for himself and his husband, Mark, since 2013. In the early days of his project the breakfasts make comforting sense, at least to someone from Britain. Granola accompanies yogurt; bacon keeps company with eggs. They have become increasingly elaborate. Homemade sourdough pretzels are dipped in white chocolate, pistachios and smoked salt. Then the odd surprise pops up: a saffron syrup-soaked jalebi (a deep-fried swirl of dough from India); a Scotch egg. And these days, since the move to Shanghai, Zee posts pictures of wonton soup laced with Sichuan chilli and a slug of sesame oil; or a vivid Sri Lankan curry, studded with boiled eggs that have been rolled in turmeric and fried.
译注：SymmetryBreakfast 这是Instagram上一个人气美食博客，也是一个摄影项目，由来自伦敦的情侣 Michael Zee和Mark van Beek 开设）
pistachio /pɪ’stɑːʃɪəʊ/ n. small tree of southern Europe and Asia Minor bearing small hard-shelled nuts 开心果
The responses he gets from some of his followers suggests that his daring is still unusual. After publishing a picture of a noodle dish, Zee received a message from an Italian, blustering that it “wasn’t breakfast”. “Not for him,” he squawks, “but it is for a billion other people.” Zee grew up eating cereal (preferably Weetabix) in the morning, with a fry-up at the weekend. Before he met his husband and started his breakfast project, his morning routine had consisted of making a large flask of coffee and rolling five cigarettes, to be consumed on the way to work. That he now eats empanadas filled with spicy Sichuan rabbit or Indonesian chicken congee, topped with pungent onions, is proof that even at breakfast, tastes can change.
从关注者中得到的反馈表明，他的大胆尝试仍不常见。在发布了一张面条照片后，哲收到了一位意大利人的消息，抱怨“这不是早餐”。 “这菜不是为他准备的，” 哲回应道，“而是为了世界上其他人。” 从小到大，哲的早餐一般就麦片（通常是维他麦），周末还会有一些煎炸食品。在遇到丈夫并开始“对称早餐”计划之前，哲每天早晨都会煮上一大壶咖啡，卷上五支香烟，在上班路上享用。而现在他吃的则是夹着四川辣兔肉的煎饼或撒上辣洋葱的印尼鸡肉粥。哲的饮食改变证明早餐的口味也可以发生变化。
There is safety in “the usual”, as Hillary Clinton might have thought when ordering her election-trail breakfast. But the evidence from meals at every other time of day suggests that even the wariest diner can eventually find delight in the unfamiliar. And given the limited number of meals anyone can eat over the course of a day, making breakfast as exciting as dinner is surely worth the risk.
正如希拉里•克林顿(Hillary Clinton) 可能在准备竞选早餐时想的那样，保持相同的选择是为了追求某种程度的安全感。但从其它时段的用餐情况来看，即使是最谨慎的就餐者也能从陌生的食物中收获乐趣。而且，考虑到每个人一天摄入的食物量有限，让早餐变得像晚餐一样令人兴奋值得一试。