Breaking the Fast

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 Read more from Gerald

“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.” John Gunther, American journalist

I love breakfast. After all the fuss of waking up and getting up, showering and dressing, I find that sitting for a while, reading the paper, chatting to Donna, thinking of the day ahead and enjoying something nice to eat and drink is such a pleasurable start.

I like a simple breakfast most days, a bowl of rolled oats with hot or cold trim milk and some fruit. Other days I have wholemeal toast with Vegemite or cottage cheese but my absolute all-time favourite is grilled sourdough bread rubbed with garlic, covered with thinly sliced tomatoes, well-seasoned and drizzled with a tasty olive oil in a version of the Catalan classic Pa amb Tomàquet. With a fresh pot of coffee it is indeed jentacular heaven.

I am not against a cooked breakfast and the weekends may see me happily grilling bacon, poaching eggs or cooking black pudding with tomatoes and apple slices, especially on the barbecue in summer.

I don’t go out for breakfast very often but when I do, I like it to be the same kind of laid-back occasion that I enjoy at home. Good coffee and a fresh brioche in a café, just watching the world go by would be ideal but sadly the local café scene hasn’t really latched onto brioche for breakfast and when a plain unfilled croissant is available, the spell is broken by the café mantra, “Would you like me to warm that up for you?” Well-made and very fresh, a croissant doesn’t need warming up, least of all in a microwave. Another breakfast, sought for but never found except at home is good fresh baguette served with a selection of sliced delicatessen as well as a choice of preserves, as in Holland and other European countries.

The sign “All Day Breakfast” outside a café fills me with dread for therein usually lurks the full, traditional, English, big boy’s, build-your-own, fry-up Brekkie, often complete with once-were-frozen hash browns and mystery-bag sausages, an essay writ in grease, without imagination; hardly a spark to light the day’s fuse.  I’m not advocating a return to the small ale, pickled oysters, turkey pie and hashed mutton that Samuel Pepys thought made a good breakfast in the 1600’s but whatever happened to devilled kidneys, kedgeree, kippers, cutlets and the other delights hidden in the morning chafing dishes of Victorian and Edwardian society?

I would have loved those P. G. Wodehouse house parties with their leisurely breakfasts. Porridge, eaten standing of course, then something hot from the buffet followed by a choice of breads, toasted and in racks to be smothered in butter and thick-cut bitter marmalade; pots of coffee and tea made properly with tealeaves and, waiting to be read, an ironed copy of the morning newspaper…bliss, but too much for every day I suppose. I wonder what Jeeves would have to say about the breaking of one’s fast today, with breakfasts in a bar or tetra pack to be enjoyed on the bus or at the office. Hardly the respect one should show to the most important meal of the day. However…

Devilled Kidneys

6 trimmed lamb’s kidneys
3 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp cayenne pepper or chili powder (more or less to taste)
1 tsp mustard powder
Salt and freshly ground pepper
50g butter
Lea and Perrin’s Worcestershire Sauce
About "1" /"3"  cup chicken stock
2 slices sourdough or other good bread, toasted

Halve the kidneys lengthwise keeping the kidney shape and remove the white fatty centre. In a bowl mix the flour, cayenne or chili, mustard, pepper and salt. Toss the kidneys in the mix and pat to remove excess.

Heat a frypan until very hot then add the butter. When it has melted and is hot, add the kidneys and cook them for about 2 minutes a side. Splash in a generous jolt or two of Worcestershire sauce, add the chicken stock and cook for a minute or so. Spoon the kidneys onto the toast, reduce the sauce a little and pour it over them… should give two people a splendid start to the day.