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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Body-and-soul glue

I eat no breakfast and my brunch has evolved over decades. I am not (repeat not) attempting to proselytise. This meal is too eclectic to please all. I do not talk during brunch for this is Guardian time; if VR has the main section of the newspaper I sing Harvest Festival hymns quietly, to myself.

Starter. Quaker Oats Oh-so-Simple original porridge oats in sachets. Preparation/Variation: Paper sachet acts as measure for added fluid; water for me, warm milk makes me vomit. Ribena sweetens/adds taste. Rationale: Possibly healthy.

Main: Two slices of medium white farmhouse loaf cut on my own slicer; Lurpak Spreadable, slightly salted (ie, semi-fake butter); Patum Peperium The Gentleman’s Relish anchovy paste; Haywards piccalilli (“deliciously chunky vegetables”). Preparation/Variation: Anchovy paste, standing in for humous, has been in fridge for ages and needs using up; unbearably piquant – only slightest smear needed. Rationale: Slightly pretentious, proves I’m capable of culinary improvisation.

Dessert 1: Braeburn apple, satsuma. Preparation/variation: Braeburn is both firm (v. important) and flavoury. Both segmented to allow me to read newspaper unhindered. Rationale: (1) I like fruit. (2) Compensates in an alimentary way for sedentary life. (3) Satsuma has fewest pips.

Dessert 2: Two Tesco custard cream sandwich biscuits, three rich tea finger biscuits. Preparation/variation: Put on plate. Immediately replaced when slice of VR’s cake is available. Rationale: Man cannot live without junk food. Accompanies coffee.

Beverage: Two mugs of black coffee (Colombian Freetrade) based on four heaped teaspoons. Preparation/Variation: Aluminium vacuum jug (goes with Krup percolator) retains heat, can be carried anywhere. Rationale: Unlike tea percolated coffee (esp. black) is an assertion of adulthood.     


  1. What a collation! I've never heard of Ribena in porridge, and never tasted Gentleman's relish, though I like anchovies very much in other contexts, like straight out of the jar sometimes. A chap I knew once used to receive a tin of it in food parcels from his mother while living a miserable, bullied existence as quite a small boy at boarding school. She never actually asked if he liked it, it was just what one was suppose to send boys at boarding school, in rather the same way as one sent them there in the first place, unquestioningly. He only told her he hated it, and boarding school, when he was an adult.

    I miss Braeburns, I think I've found them here sometimes but they aren't as good, not as firm and flavoury. Pink Ladies are my favourite, but I have to be feeling decadent and extravagant.

  2. What, no Marmite? No Nutella? I was unaware of Marmite until it was banned here earlier in the year, but Nutella ads were so profuse (in London) I assumed every man, woman and child was tucking in to a jar of it at every meal.

  3. I think, set within the context of Braeburns and Satsumas, the saying, "Man cannot live without junk food" is quotable and exemplary. Although my own quirky metabolism must add, "Man cannot live without breakfast."

  4. All: As with Galapagos tortoises this meal has undergone tortuous evolution. Many years ago the starter consisted of a half-grapefruit but this was discarded when I found there was no reliable method of ensuring that the fruit contained juice. Tinned grapefruit followed. Then an extremely masculine form of muesli, toast rather untoasted bread, etc. Time after time I have told myself (foolishly): This is it! And then I recall the unsatisfactory "bland" period when brawn figured.

    In the future, when I've gone gaga, I imagine some institutional carer forcing "pobs" (bread soaked in warm milk) down my throat and me having lost the telephone number for Dignitas.

    Lucy: I'm not really an anchovy fan. But PP is a sort of quintessence of a quintessence, so extreme that it confers Superman status on me the bruncher. As to apples, there was a long period when I allowed crunchiness to predominate and I ate nought by Grannies. But then you did a post about apples, disdained Grannies and, amonth or two later, under osmotic influence, I did so too.

    Stella: Marmite before midday requires a special kind of palate. My former son-in-law had it but he, alas, is now toast (Wa-ho, a plaisanterie) and I have no desire to follow him. Nutella is for those with the palate of a child - ie, no palate at all.

    Lucas: Many people have told me - in much sternerterms - that avoiding a breakfast at breakfast time is the sure way to Hell. Well, I do have Dante on my Kindle. Custard creams are also a way of maintaining my demotic touch.

    RW (zS): Coxes are sweeter but they don't stay firm. Grannies are firmer but are acidically monotonous. Braeburns are the best compromise.

  5. I tried Oat So Simple - laudably convenient but, to my palate, very disappointing. Same thing with Braeburn: good for crunchiness but, watery and bland in taste(to me). Favourite apple is Pink Lady or Russet, though the latter can go rather soft. Sorry to be so contrary,
    but bread...bread! There are so many really tasty breads around now - even Sainsbury does a delicious seeded spelt loaf. If you see one,try it!

  6. Natalie: I stressed I wasn't proselytising, and why. All the items listed can be improved upon but the combination is presently the best compromise. Obviously I rate apple crunchiness higher than you do. In three months' time elements of this meal will have changed.

    In fact change (potential change) is this meal's greatest benefit. The more individualistic a food's taste (qv, the interminable bread debate), the more likely one is to kick it out after the passage of time. For this reason Patum Paperium won't be repeated. There is a perfectly legitimate argument to be made for entirely anonymous bread; its acceptability may last longer. I recall Prof. Lawrie Taylor expatiating on the perfect hard-boiled egg sandwich. Although he was being deliberately puckish he had me half convinced about Mother's Pride. One of the more comic aspects of the bread debate is the insistence that Mother's Pride is not only tasteless and non-nutritious but also immoral. As if bread was an intellectual proposition.