Happy New Years Eve, Friends of Breakfast! The What Is Breakfast Committee is delighted to report that they are already on track to fulfill their pre-resolution of updating this blog with new determinations every Friday. (Three weeks = three determinations = WIN.) In the pursuit of that goal, we continue to introduce exciting (and occasionally maverick) new Guest Committee Members. This week, we'd like to welcome Guest Committee Member David Death to the breakfast table.
David Deathhas the most important qualification for a Committee Member: he always eats Breakfast. (Previous "Problem Members" have always been non-breakfast-eaters. Co-chair Jessy has no excuse whatsoever for allowing these people to make breakfast-related decisions.) He also provides a much-needed expertise in the arena of Gluten-Free Breakfast, as well as a flair for factually-questionable mythology.
Dear What Is Breakfast Committee:
As I sit in my dining room this morning, soaking up the desert sunshine and delighting in my morning meal, I became paralyzed mid-spoonful as the thought surfaced, "Is this breakfast??" I am indulging in quinoa with apples, raisins, and vanilla yogurt with cinnamon on top. What concerns me is the quinoa. Could this sacred Incan super crop be breakfast? Is this mighty grain amongst grains truly a breakfast food? Will I disturb the Incan gods with my preparation of this meal? And what about the breakfast gods?
Mid-spoonful, anxious, and awaiting your reply,
(February 4, 2009)
First, let me just apologize on behalf of Committees everywhere for leaving you mid-spoonful for the past thirteen-and-a-half months. Regardless of what position you were in when you chose to freeze and await our reply, I realize it is highly unlikely that it has remained comfortable for this period of time. I sympathize with your plight and the plight of your atrophied muscles. I also regret to inform you that the What Is Breakfast Committee cannot be held responsible for any medical conditions arising from their determinations or lack thereof.
Secondly, let us address the matter at hand: quinoa. Wikipedia identifies quinoa as a "psuedocereal," stating that it is "a grain-like product.... more closely related to beets, spinach, and tumbleweeds" (????) than to, say, rice crispies. Now, while I can state with absolute conviction that Tumbleweeds Are Not Breakfast, it only seems fair to note that quinoa fulfills every Breakfast nutritional value that the Committee could dream of, due to its status as a "superfood" (and, one can only assume, its unique blessing from the Incan Breakfast gods). Also, it appears to me that Dedicated Breakfaster Tiffany has taken her good intentions a step further, and surrounded the possibly-questionable quinoa with apples, raisins, vanilla yoghurt, and cinnamon - thus metaphorizing the quinoa into a somewhat-healthier oatmeal substitute.
Furthermore, since I've already referenced Wikipedia on this matter (although my more-scholarly co-chair might object to its inclusion as a source), it only seems fair to add that Wikipedia specifically states that, "Quinoa can serve as a high-protein breakfast food mixed with honey, almonds, or berries; it is also sold as a dry product, much like corn flakes." Although neither apples, raisins, yoghurt, nor cinnamon are specifically mentioned as Breakfast Mixers here, I feel confident in allowing some creative expansion on the specific items listed here, as long as they fall firmly within the established Breakfast cannon.
This half of The Committee applauds your decision. You may take that now-moldering bite with confidence.
Final vote: Breakfast.
Dear Tiffany Quinoa,
The lucky ones will sometimes wakeup with a pain that feels like General Tso fighting last Saturday's Chinese for breakfast (Not Breakfast) in their stomach. Usually accompanied with bad words and gnashing teeth, the oft misdiagnosed pain is caused by the fun-in-the-sun Celiac Disease. Celiac Disease, an autoimmune reaction to gliadin found in the gluten protein, is a lifetime Big Deal with [edited for grossness], nausea, and a failure-to-carry-on as common symptoms. Not unlike Celiac, the oft self-diagnosed wheat allergy produces similar symptoms.
These lucky ones look for solace in less popular grains. Enter Lady Quinoa, an attractive and gliadin free alternative to the sexy, but uninteresting wheat. It can even be eaten hot or cold. Take that Oatmeal! In short, Quinoa makes an excellent substitute for any wheat-based cereal, thereby making an excellent breakfast choice.
But breakfast, unfortunately, is second to a more pressing issue that you brought up. Sadly, your prophecy was correct and you did, in fact, disturb the Incan Gods. If our silence for the last 22 months was disquieting, consider that any and all response efforts went to defending your life and ours. You're welcome.
Final Vote: Breakfast, even if the gods are angry.*
The Committee Has Determined:
Quinoa With Apples, Raisins, and Vanilla Yogurt with Cinnamon On Top Is Totes Breakfast.
*Quick historical fact: Celiac Disease was first brought to Earth by the ancient Incan Gods to punish the children of father's who did evil things with bread.
The What Is Breakfast Committee Christmas Special is brought to you in part by the Baby Jesus, my mom's Egg Souffle, and new Guest Committee Member Carly Mexico. Carly is a big fan of cereal, a world-renowned expert on brunch, and a long-time faithful friend to both co-chairs. She also, incidentally, is the only person to own the pilot episode of Co-chair Jessy's ill-fated cooking show, Cooking with Jessypants, in which she makes huevos rancheros in about four times the amount of time it should take to make huevos rancheros.
Dear What Is Breakfast Committee:
Must Standard Breakfast Rules apply on the most magical day of the year? When my mom already said that I can have hot chocolate and christmas cookies for breakfast?? I don't love breaking Rules, but also I really love festive sweet things, and maybe the Committee could cede to the magic a little? On Christmas?
Festive in Fort Collins
Carly Mexico: I am slightly shame-faced to admit that my initial reaction to my first ever Official Breakfast Determination is, “meh, it’s Christmas, whatevs.” But, co-chairs forgive me, despite the following extended explanation, that is the core of my ruling.
To defend my position, let me first say that I’m a sucker for all things Christmas. In my experience, “Hey, it’s Christmas!” is enough of an excuse to cover a multitude of sins (well, at least gluttony… I totally don’t get on board with those office Christmas party shenanigans). So, there’s that.
For a more professional answer, let me pose a question in response: are cookies really that much less Breakfast than doughnuts? I’m from Massachusetts, friends, running on Dunkin is in my blood. So if coffee and doughnuts are generally regarded as a passable, if not nutritionally-balanced breakfast, can we really disregard the short and seasonable step to hot chocolate and cookies, given the circumstances? I'm assuming, as it's Christmas, that later in the day there will be much feasting; surely the green bean casserole and brussles sprouts will make up for whatever nutritional elements are lacking from the morning's epicurean delights.
Finally, I direct your attention to Festive’s mother, who already said hot chocolate and cookies were OK. I rest my case.
My answer: Hot Chocolate and Christmas cookies are A Very Merry Breakfast. But only on Christmas morning.
Jessy: I think I'm having a crisis of conscience. I've never had one before, but I think this is what one would feel like.
My first inclination (the opposite of Carly Mexico's) was something along the lines of, "are you KIDDING me??!?" The idea of eating hot chocolate and cookies and calling it Breakfast seems like an affront to everything that the WIBC stands for. (And on a personal note, it makes me physically ill to think about it.) Festivity is not a good enough excuse (as we saw in our response to An Endorser of the Exceptional Breakfast long ago). And we all know that BAH-HUMBUG stands for Breakfast Always Has Healthy Underpinnings, Mostly By Unchoosing Gumdrops.
But unfortunately, my Esteemed Guest Committee Member has made a compelling argument. (And not just because she used the word "shenanigans.") Even as the Scrooge of Breakfast, I have been known to make allowances for items like scones or donuts. And she's right! Donuts aren't any more like real food than Christmas cookies are! Particularly if you get them with enough frosting! Which is disgusting, but as previously mentioned, I am not a member of the What Is Disgusting Committee! And none of this would even matter, except it's Christmas, and I've consumed dozens of Christmas movies over the years, all of which have taught me that the rules of the universe don't apply on Christmas, and, and, and...
Oh fine, it's Breakfast.
FOR ONE DAY ONLY.
[Ed.: And for the sake of appeasing the very cranky man in the comments, and my own conflicted conscience, please at least consider sprinkling your Christmas cookies with, I don't know... bananas?]
The WIBC apologizes, yet again, for its tardiness in replying to its many queries. But it recognizes that after so many apologies, it is time to stop apologizing and truly repent.
Thus, in the spirit of pre-new-year resolutions, the Committee is going to boldly attempt to provide you, in the year of our Lord two-thousand-and-eleven, with a new Breakfast Determination each Friday.
So send in those queries, breakfast-curious. The answers are on their way!
In other news, the Committee has decided to give Guest Committee Member David Ells another chance. He may have a split-personality disorder, but it is knowledge of Breakfast that counts in this industry.
Jessy: I know I'm going to draw some fire for this one, but I'm going to go ahead and say it: in my opinion, Coffee, while standing as a key ingredient in many Breakfasts, is Not Breakfast on its own. In fact, I would submit that a Beverage can only support a meal, not stand alone as a meal on its own merits.
For example, if you drink orange juice for "breakfast" without any solid food accompaniment, you are not eating Breakfast, but rather are participating in a temporary juice fast. Although juice fasts have many excellent health benefits, being Breakfast is not one of them.
Similarly, if you had coffee for "breakfast," it's more like you started Breakfast and forgot to finish. And, as we all know, "almost only counts in horseshoes." So think about that next time you're playing horseshoes, Gypsy.
David Ells: "If it's not in your cup, you're out of luck. And if you need a maxim in time, just use slant rhyme" as they say. So, no, yeah, totally. Breakfast.
The What Is Breakfast Committee Has Determined:
Coffee By Itself is Not Breakfast. Nor Are Slant Rhymes.
On an unrelated note, The Committee is now accepting applications for new Guest Committee Members.
We, The What Is Breakfast Committee, have no desire to deny that our judgements are both culturally and historically specific, bound to the dining norms of the United States of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. We are mindful, too, that traditions change over time and that culinary choices are often subject to economic, regional, ethical, and practical considerations. We thus attempt in our judgements to balance our understanding of established tradition with the general praxis of alimentary decision-making that is daily negotiated by the average American.