Monday, September 29, 2008

Dear "What Is Breakfast" Committee:

Is a (crunchy) peanut butter sandwich and a granola bar breakfast?


Meal-Confused in Chicago

Jessy: This actually may be the most serious candidate for Breakfast we've seen thus far. A granola bar - although the type is a little ambiguous here - is generally a breakfast food, and often even a nutritious one at that. The crunchy peanut butter sandwich is a bit more tricky. I have clarified with the inquirer that it was, as advertised, simply a peanut butter sandwich, rather than a peanut butter & jelly sandwich. For me, this is an important distinction. Peanut butter & jelly sandwiches have, for better or for worse, a strong "lunch" association. Whereas I find peanut butter on toast to be a perfectly acceptable breakfast food: it starts the day with protein and in many cases hearty whole grains as well. (I neglected to ask the inquirer about the type of bread they were using in this sandwich - which may prove disastrous.) Putting it in a sandwich form does nudge it a bit in the direction of lunch, however. And of course a balanced breakfast would include some sort of fruit, even if just a glass of unconcentrated orange juice - but I realise that we are working simply for Breakfast here, not a Balanced Breakfast. But does the sandwich aspect compromise the overall breakfastyness of Meal-Confused in Chicago's dining experience?

I would concur that Meal-Confused presents a very strong contention for the status of Breakfast in the peanut butter sandwich and granola bar combination. However, I will admit that said combination's remarkable resemblance to Lunch does give one pause, for surely, submitting a meal of identical contents to a What Is Lunch Committee (should one exist) would almost certainly produce an instant and unanimous yea. But, again, the lack of jelly does weigh in favor of breakfast (though, ironically, jelly by itself or in combination with cream cheese remains a most-popular breakfast condiment - ah the never-ending mystery that is Breakfast!). Finally, all hesitation must be cast aside when we consider the crucial detail of chunky peanut butter as opposed to smooth, for chunky peanut butter simply carries with it a fantastic-ness that makes the world a better place. Its inclusion not only authenticates the breakfastyness of the meal, but also the general good character of Meal-Confused in Chicago. My vote: Heck Yeah Breakfast.

Jessy votes: An Irony-Laden Breakfast.

The Committee's Final Vote Is:

(crunchy) peanut butter sandwich and a granola bar is Indeed Breakfast.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Dear What Is Breakfast Committee,

I just fished a full bite of chocolate chip cookie from the bottom of my coffee with a spoon that had crusty refried beans and green-chili sauce on it. This happened at roughly 2:55 p.m and did indeed bring a fast to a successful termination. Is this breakfast?

Clearly I then ate the bite of chocolate chip cookie. And it tasted nice.

Malnourished in Montauk

Chanelle: While the defendant in this case rightly reminds us of the etymology of the word "breakfast" as referring to the breaking of a fast, it has long been recognized that the fast in question alludes to the automatic, involuntary fast produced by the state of sleep. Perhaps, however, the defendant had just awoken from sleep at 2:55 pm and could argue that the consumed item broke the specific sleep-induced fast implied in the literal meaning of "breakfast." To this I say: it matters not. No no no and no. Final Vote: Absolutely Not Breakfast.

Jessy: That is, indeed, Absolutely Not Breakfast. However, if we ever decide to form a sister committee called the What Is Disgusting Committee, that would definitely qualify.

The Commitee's Resolve is Unshakable:

Coffee-drenched (?) cookie piece with refried bean-and-green-chili-sauce residue consumed at 2:55 pm is Absolutely Not Breakfast.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Dear What Is Breakfast Committee,

I recently witnessed my boss eating what appeared to be some form of reheated left-overs, quite possibly containing a chicken dish. This occurred between 10-11am on a Tuesday. I wanted to ask him if it was breakfast, but then realized that I didn't actually care. So I defer my question to your expertise.

Grossed Out By the Thought of Leftovers for Breakfast

Chanelle: I can easily sympathize with your hesitations regarding this case, as several facets appear ambiguous. Firstly, not being certain of the actual dish consumed must, in some small measure, hinder our assessment. However, despite the recent (and dubious) southern-style-chicken-for-breakfast campaign proliferated by McDonald's, I maintain that meals involving chicken are quite unorthodox in the breakfast-food realm. Another relevant factor here lies in the fact that the leftovers were "reheated." Though not perhaps healthy, it is common practice among certain demographics (read, undergraduates) to eat leftovers from the previous evening's dinner upon first waking up. Take out / delivery meals such as pizza and Chinese food are popular options. When resorted to for morning sustenance in a knowing, jaunty, even devil-may-care manner by the young (defined here as 18-22 for females and 14-37 for males), these foodstuffs can be loosely defined as breakfast. But it is crucial in this case that the comestibles in question remain cold and are eaten straight from the refrigerator, for reheating, it is to be insisted, is a function of lunch. It would be easy, then, to categorize the chicken leftovers mentioned here as "lunch," were it not for the vexing problem of timeframe. Alas, I must argue that while the 11 am - noon hour can be rightly considered "early lunch," the preceding hour is simply too early for anything but traditional breakfast cuisine, midmorning pastry snackfoods, or the category of brunch*. Final vote: Not Breakfast.

I defer to my co-chair's greater familiarity with the Leftovers for Breakfast genre. Although I would in some cases take issue with the validity of the genre as a whole, I do not find it helpful to explore that distinction at this juncture, since we have arrived at the same decision regardless. Also, wow - she knows a lot of big words**.
Final vote:
Not Breakfast.

The Committee's Final Decision Is:

Reheated Leftovers (possibly chicken) between the hours of 10 am and 11 am are Not Breakfast.

* It may be wondered why the chicken leftovers may not be classified in the more generous category of brunch, and while this would more properly be a matter for the Subcommittee on That Which Distinguishes Brunch from Breakfast and Lunch, I would submit that there is a generally-accepted cannon of foods associated with that meal, and (as we have seen in the case of breakfast) chicken is rarely involved.