Sunday, 13 January 2008

A True Canadian Breakfast

Breakfast is said to be the most important meal of the day. The general wisdom is that, in an ideal world, one should breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a pauper - all of which makes a great deal of sense to me in theory. Breakfast is the meal that should set you up for the day, whereas dinner should not be a time to over-indulge on calories and fat just before bedtime.

However, my main problem with this theory is that I just don't like breakfast. I'm not naturally an early-riser, so breakfast for me must be grabbed in the 10-15 minutes before I go to work, but even on the days when I don't work I can never whip up much enthusiasm for this meal. Cereal... I eat it occasionally, but get bored of it if I'm having it every morning, although I do use it as a way to eat my daily dose of health-giving seeds. Toast... my current daily breakfast: granary toast with Bovril (brought back from the UK in my suitcase!), or occasionally low-fat cream-cheese and my homemade wild grape jelly. All washed down with a large mug of tea of course.

I don't really mind the dullness of my morning meals from Monday to Friday, but at the weekends I really want to enjoy everything I eat. Food is a way of celebrating every aspect of life, even something that happens as regularly as a Saturday or Sunday. Thus, a lot of thought goes into our weekend breakfasts. Sometimes we go for the good old English fry-up of bacon and eggs. This is always a winning choice, although has the disadvantage of forcing you to spend the rest of the day smelling as though you are wearing 'Eau de Bacon', and filling the house with the stife of frying. It is also well nigh impossible to buy back-bacon here in Canada so streaky bacon must be used instead - still a good option but not quite authentic.

More recently, having been treated to this for breakfast over the Christmas holiday whilst staying with family, we have been eating a poached egg on toast with smoked salmon, which feels somehow healthy and delicious (don't disillusion me now, smoked salmon is full of those Omega oils!). I can see this entering our repertoire of 'special breakfasts'.

However, I think that my favourite ever weekend breakfast has to be the Canadian classic of pancakes with maple syrup. Over the last 18 months we have tried many variations of this: during the summer months when the beautiful peaches from the Niagara region are so abundant we slice some fresh peaches over the pancakes before dousing them with maple syrup (pictured).

At other times of the year the slightly surprising combination of crispy bacon placed on top of the pancakes, and covered with syrup is also a fabulous plateful. This is where the streaky bacon comes into its own as it fries into wonderfully crunchy strips of meat which provide an excellent contrast to the squidge beneath.
This morning what prompted me to come to the computer and write my first blog for weeks was the discovery that adding a handful of blueberries - bought in bulk locally last summer and thrown into the freezer - to each pancake as it cooked produced perhaps my favourite yet permutation of this breakfast. The blueberries defrosted as the pancake cooked, and then began to cook themselves, ending up in a slightly 'jammy' consistency. The slight tartness of the fruit worked beautifully with the blandness of the pancake and the sweetness of the syrup. I was in breakfast heaven!
What a wonderful way to start the day! I certainly do feel as though I have breakfasted like a king. Although I don't think there's much chance of us eating a paupers' dinner this evening...