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Breakfast like a King

Updated: May 13

Following up on my post earlier this week about breakfast, I suddenly remembered something my grandmother used to say to me when I was a child.

"Breakfast like a king, Lunch like a courtesan, Sup like a pauper."

I didn't really understand this at the time, and certainly couldn't see how having lunch in a big dress and entertaining a man was relevant to the food on the table - or to me aged (about 10), but it turns out this is old wisdom which we should learn to heed in our modern world. Far from having their main meal in the evening, many ages (and cultures) of old ate their heavy, nutrient dense foods at breakfast. ... and this seems, for many (or even most) people to be better for their digestive, health, their energy levels and their sleep.

From kings and rulers to farmers and labourers, they would get up do a few hours work (or go riding or shooting) and then go back in for breakfast sometime around 9 or 10am. Hams, fish, eggs, meat jellies (think pork pie without the pastry), cheeses, and usually some fruits and possibly cake and cream or cream / butter based potato cakes were the mainstay of old fashioned breakfasts in most European countries.

Lunch was a more mediocre affair (and often very late to our way of thinking now - probably nearer 3-4pm, particularly for the farmers who would eat out on the field before coming in for the day). This would consist usually of pies and pasties - left overs from the previous day's breakfast and supper encased in pastry to add bulk and keep it fresh. The upper classes may sit down and slice it onto a plate with some vegetables (depending on the time in history), whilst for the lower classes it was more of a finger food they could eat on the go.

Supper would be simple, small and often taken alone (in the big houses). It would be easily digestible and would have plenty of complex carbohydrates - think about Victorian Nursery teas. The adults mainly had moved on to a different way of eating by this time in history, but nursery teas retained something of previous eras -bread, jam, milk, maybe a nourishing soup made of vegetables and broth from the meat cooked for breakfast.

Some things (like the idea bathing was bad for us) are best left in the realms of history - but some things, like this, we can do well to learn from in our modern era.

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