Breakfast: the most important meal of the day, blah, blah, blah. Haven’t we had this conversation before…
That’s British food writer Seb Emina advising us to be silent as we take our toast and tea.
The author of a new book titled The Breakfast Bibleis quoted in the Telegraph as telling BBC’s Radio 4 that people need not ‘“feel obliged to speak to each other”’ nor ‘“feel offended if the room is completely silent.”’
Cue Guardian columnist Stuart Jeffries who isn’t keen on the idea of coffee sans coffee talk.
“My fear is that Emina is legitimizing the insane sensibilities of the morning grump who refuses to engage in human interaction until they've had their coffee,” Jeffries writes.
He explains that Emina is so pro-breakfast that even mundane discourse can distract us from paying our muesli the appreciation it deserves – although he seems to have no issue with people listening to the radio or reading a newspaper.
Perhaps it’s that breakfast, more than any other meal, brings people together at a time of day when few are at their sharpest. Is it really so wrong to hold off any conversation until after the first cup of coffee?
Of course, chatting about weekend plans or the NHL’s return is far less insidious than the silence that results from smartphone surfing while segmenting a grapefruit.
Maybe the issue is not whether breakfast should be designated as quiet time but whether the first meal of the day should be free from interaction altogether.
Jefferies, for one, cites 18th century French diplomat Talleyrand as an early advocate of the full ritual involved in drinking brandy – one that ends in discussion.
This is a very rarefied example that may no longer be relevant today – or to breakfast; people are unlikely to mull over the nuanced flavours of a protein shake or a Pop-Tart.
Which, indeed, brings us back to Emina, Mr. Breakfast Champion. Anyone who devotes a whole book to breakfast – musical accompaniments, recipes, international fare and more – might simply be making a case that we should be eating better before the noon hour.
The fact that he discourages conversation comes across as fanatical, especially when so many people still skip breakfast altogether. Shouldn’t the commitment to a croissant or bowl of cereal be enough?
Really, it’s all just food for thought.