Thursday, 17 February 2011

Breakfast on the Hoof

Bacon, eggs, sausage and fried bread; four of the most renowned and revered components of the traditional English breakfast. With derivatives boasting black pudding, baked beans, potatoes and tomato, it’s pretty clear that that the concept of eating breakfast like a king, was devised by an Englishman.

The notoriety of the ‘Full English’ is undisputedly epic.

One need only take a stroll down the local high street, past any early doors pub, café, or suitably coined ‘Greasy Spoon,’ to fully fathom the extent of its popularity.
And despite an ever increasing awareness regarding the intake of saturated fats and cholesterol heavy foods, business in the cooked breakfast trade is positively booming.

But what about us weight watchers? What about those who wish to shy away from the institution of the ‘fry-up,’ and preserve the sanctity of their coronary arteries for at least one more day?

Well never fear. Here in England we serve a variety of suitable alternatives to the full English, and as an indiscriminate democracy, we strive to cater for those with all manners of taste.
Indeed, many of the aforementioned eateries will gladly take one or more cooked breakfast items of your choosing, carefully place it (complete with congealed lard) between two thickly buttered slices of bread, and smoother with sugar rich condiments. Voila.

So perhaps I exaggerate the situation slightly, and of course it is possible to indulge on the odd bacon sarnie without breaking the calorie bank. Yet how many of us have actively searched for a more conventionally healthy breakfast with any degree of success? How many of us have walked past our local café, and been presented with a chalkboard boasting a ten item fruit salad?

Thought not.

Yes readers, as sad as it may be, when it comes to breakfast on the hoof, yoghurts and mueslis are no where to be seen, and even a bowl of cornflakes would seem to be as rare as ant truffles.

At least that’s what I thought.

Yesterday, I read an interesting article about Porridge (no kidding, it was actually interesting.) The article spoke about the resurgence in popularity of this rather old-fashioned breakfast item, and the keen uptake among coffee house proprietors, to offer the hearty, healthy, and fuel laden substance to its customers.
With this in mind, I embarked upon a little research; and to my surprise, found that several well known coffee shop and café chains, had added a range of porridge to their early morning breakfast menus.

After recovering from the shock and humiliation of not being aware of this fact beforehand, I decided that this discovery was worthy of further investigation.

So, over the next week or so, your self proclaimed Scoffing Cow will forgo her usual morning routine. Instead I will attempt the previously daunting concept of breakfast on the hoof, or more specifically, porridge on the hoof, and strive to sample some of the varieties on offer.
At the end of the week, I will diligently report back with my findings, in order to suggest whether us calorie counters are finally safe to leave the house in the morning, on an empty stomach, without risking a sausage sandwich slip-up or bacon bap blunder.

Of course porridge isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, so for those adverse to its majesty, you may wish to look away now… or at least, within a week’s time.
Meanwhile for those of you with a greater appreciation, or at least a willingness to give it a go, watch this space.

… It’ll be oatstanding.



Bin Man said...

Those of us who still indulge in manual labour will realise that there's nothing quite like a full english for satiating ones appetite, particularly when one doesn't know when ones next reprieve from ones labour may be. So you may keep your skinny yoghurts and ineffective bird food, for without my beloved daily serving of wholesome calories, I would surely collapse by mid morning and would therefore not be able to complete my vital tasks.

The Scoffing Cow said...

Dear Mr Bin Man,

Thank you for your comment, and thanks for stopping by. I sense it may be both your first and last visit, but hey ho, I wanted to reply nonetheless.

Although the precise genesis of the Full English Breakfast is a little sketchy, it is thought likely that the ‘Fry-Up’ first emerged during the industrial revolution. At around this time, manual farm labourers, who would commonly graft from anywhere between 9 and 12 hours a day, would ensure fortification by scouring the pantry for what ever food was available, and tossing the lot into a jolly big frying pan. (It was much more likely that this was done by their obedient wives, but hey, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.)

This feat, would probably in nutritional terms, set indulgers back by a hefty 3,000 calories a day, however since this quota was almost certainly burnt by lunch time, exertion and intake was just about right.

Today, working ethics and modern technology bind the majority of the populous to the whims of a computer. We answer phones, we stand behind counters, we sit in cars or lorries making long distance journeys, and tax our bodies to the absolute minimum.
Even those with more manual occupations, are a lot less active than their counterparts would have been in years gone by. Advancements in mechanics and methods of transport mean that a lot less effort is required to complete tasks which would have proved extremely labour intensive in the 19th century.

To put it simply, the majority of us just don’t need this amount of calories anymore. And if I’m honest, I’d be surprised if anyone truly does.

It may shock you to learn Mr Bin Man, that despite being a devote weight watcher, I would never advocate a breakfast consisting of bird food.
If you had read my post in detail, you may have recognised that my main goal when selecting a healthy and enjoyable breakfast, is sustenance…

Whether active or sedentary, we all need a source of energy. Since slow burning, complex carbohydrates keep a steady flow of energy coming throughout the day, a breakfast rich in such components is king.
As you so rightly point out, wholesome calories are the goal at breakfast time, and starving ourselves silly is nothing but ineffectual.

But here’s where it gets interesting, and I get kind of smug, because honestly, your beloved ‘Fry-Up,’ contains about as many ‘wholesome’ calories as a rice cake.

Of course you may feel full after tucking into a traditional cooked breakfast, but let’s face it, who wouldn’t? You could eat a bail of hay and achieve the same sense of satisfaction – doesn’t mean that you’ve actually put anything worthwhile into your stomach.

Tinned beans, tinned tomatoes, frozen sausages and packaged bacon… full or preservatives to sustain shelf life rather than energy levels.
What the ‘Fry-Up’ is giving you of course, are epic portions of saturated fats, cholesterol, and salt. A winning combination for heart disease, bowel cancers, and god knows what else.
In addition to this, due to the amount of food typically consumed in one sitting of the ‘Full Monty’ ilk, and the ridiculous amount of empty carbohydrates contained within, your energy levels are in fact more likely to plummet. You see, when it’s full, your stomach starts to crave blood flow in order to aid the digestion process. Since your body wouldn’t want you jumping around in the mean time and upsetting the process, chemicals in our brain deter us from physical activity by making us sleepy and sluggish.

Mr Bin Man, I fully believe in, and endorse Freedom of Speech, and certainly wouldn’t condemn you for having an opinion which differs from my own. However the health risks associated with the Full English, and indeed obesity are undeniable. To top it off, the reasons you give for supporting the ‘Fry-Up’ are, I’m afraid to say, unfounded.
Perhaps before you endorse the institution again so obstinately, you should familiarise yourself with some of them…. or at least restrain from visiting a healthy eating blog in the future.

The Scoffing Cow.

Bergerac said...

Whilst i enjoy a 'hearty breakfast' myself (all too frequently i'm sorry to say) and therefore understand its appeal. Having recently switched to porridge oats for my morning trough, i have noticed a massive improvement in my energy levels and general mood. By cutting out my lardy lunches too(i.e Sausage, egg and Bacon baps) and replacing them with equally tasty, but less fatty substitutes, i've found that I'm also fuelled for a gym session after my working day..which, like Bin Man, is a manual labour job.
So, i'd love to offer solidarity to my fellow hard working brother..but i'm with the Cow on this one. She's on the money!

Bin Man said...

Dear Cow,

Thankyou for your reply and I feel quite honoured by its verbosity, even though you do appear to 'scoff' at me, if you will excuse the pun!

I would like to lay down the gauntlet to you - don a stylish high-viz and join me one freezing winter morning, and see if you can last the daily round on your low calorie intake breakfast. Perhaps your chances of success would be increased if more people did follow your blogging (which, judging by most articles being bereft of comments, they don't) since a bin full of nothing but empty porridge boxes would surely make for a less cumbersome load.

And so I will leave your mediocre website and prepare for my next gruelling round, and I may defiantly raise a fork to you as I tuck into my delicious fried bread and black pudding.


The Scoffing Cow said...

Challenge accepted sir, I will gladly accompany you on one of your rounds. Perhaps that way I can at least ensure the prompt emptying of my own bin, which has been stood outside on the yard for several days now awaiting collection.

One would think with all those extra calories, workers such as yourself would not have been deterred by a small scattering of snow...

Look forward to hearing from you...

The Scoffing Cow