Saturday, March 30, 2013

Swiss Cheese Sleep Cycle

Welcome back, Hopeful Breakfasters! And please join me in welcoming Guest Committee Member Chad, a great patron of Breakfast establishments throughout Chicago, the Bay Area, and his house. He also took our Breakfast photo on the right, thus providing photographic evidence that he knows Breakfast when he sees it. 

Dear What is Breakfast Committee,

I have a dilemma.  My poor sleeping habits sometimes have ill-effects.  One of these ill-effects is sleeping in a bit too late and having to take my Breakfast "on the road" as I run off hurriedly to class.  I don't always have much in terms of food "to go," so oftentimes I will grab a slice of swiss cheese or two and wash it down with water.  Is that Breakfast?

Perplexed in Poughkeepsie

Guest Committee Member Chad:
Dear Perplexed,

I am sorry for your sleeping troubles. Many of us have known the long stretches of dark, insomnia-ridden nights that make the bright glow of Breakfast seem painfully far away.

Unless, of course, you’re just doing other things, like watching entire seasons of Wings on Netflix, in which case you need to re-examine your life choices.

Which brings me to my next point: use those late-night hours to prepare Breakfast for the next day! As any good nightwalker knows, a sleepless hour doesn’t have to be a wasted hour (or a boring one, if you have an equally sleepless and consenting partner around). Perhaps you could hit an all-night grocery and pick up something more substantial than slices of swiss cheese.

So, on that note: cheese and water, I have to say, are simply tiny building blocks used to make actual Breakfast items, like omlettes and coffee. On their own, they do not constitute a meal. On their own, they taste only of longing and regret.

Please, my dear Perplexed, stop depriving yourself of essential nutrients and delicious meals. At least get some granola bars to supplement your busy schedule. Unlike many other after-hour decisions, this is one you’ll never regret.

Final vote: Not Breakfast.

Co-chair Jessy:

I get it! I really do. I was up late watching Wings last night myself, had a bit of a lie-in in the morning, and then had to rush out the door to get to the lab on time, with just a thin cup of almond milk trying to stand between me and a Not Breakfast fate. Fortunately, I keep a grapefruit tree flourishing at work for just such an occasion.

But as Guest Committee Member Chad has pointed out, there are many other strategies you can use to make Breakfast work for you, no matter your REM cycle. The pre-packing a granola bar strategy is a good one. (WARNING: I have found that this strategy does not translate as well to, say, oatmeal.) You also might want to consider genetically modifying your own fruit tree, or seducing a bakery owner with co-dependency issues. The possibilities are endless! 

Except for the possibility of swiss cheese and water being Breakfast. Get real. 

Final vote: Not Breakfast. 

The Committee is Certain:

A Slice or Two of Swiss Cheese Washed Down with Water is Not Breakfast.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Brussel Sprouts! Bacon! Breakfast?

Concerned Breakfasters, please join me in welcoming Guest Committee Member Kasey!

Kasey knows that it's Not Breakfast when she eats a cookie, but perhaps her most important qualification for the Committee is that she is one half of
Shorties Review Chicago, where she and Co-chair Jessy write one-sentence reviews of Chicago art, theatre, live music, film, and the occasional sandwich. So she is very experienced at having opinions about things.

Speaking of which, there is a Concerned Breakfaster in Chicago who needs their help....

Dear What Is Breakfast,

I made Brussel Sprouts with Thick Cut Apple Wood Smoked Bacon for dinner. There are leftovers and I'm about to give in and eat it all for breakfast. Its 10:11AM. This actually seems like Breakfast in disguise, but you're the experts—is this Breakfast?

-Confused Human in Chicago

Dear Confused Human in Chicago:

Let me start by saying how much I admire your conservative, efficient attitude towards leftovers. Many people wouldn't have even considered this option while contemplating Breakfast. Some callous souls may have even left the potential meal to gray and spoil in the back of their fridge—mocking it with new takeout and fresh groceries.

That said, I think we have an interesting dilemma on our hands. How can you translate this once-dinner into Breakfast without reducing the qualifications of the glorious morning meal to a mere timeframe? Just because you eat it at 10am, doesn't mean it is truly Breakfast.

Let's examine the components involved:

Brussel Sprouts: This delicious vegetable is quite a unique one. In addition to having all the nutrients of its leafy green friends, these little buds also offers some protein. When weighing early morning dining options, protein should always be a factor. Think of it as a jump start to a day of productive eating.

Thick Cut Apple Wood Smoked Bacon: I can tell you are proud of this bacon. I'm not sure if you cut or smoked the bacon yourself, but you demonstrate a clear respect for this half of the meal. Each descriptor and every capital letter in your email is a textual tip-of-the-hat to what I can only assume was a superb decision in pork. In my opinion, bacon is always a tasty and traditional addition to a true Breakfast. And yet, as bacon becomes more and more trendy, I become more and more skeptical of its allegiance to Breakfast. Today's uninhibited bacon garnishes everything from sandwiches to cupcakes. What was once a classic Breakfast meat is now the bakery sideshow freak. My inner activist argues that you must eat this dish for the benefit of Breakfast itself. You must do it to save the bacon and remind it where it came from, its origin, its home. That isn't what this committee is about, however, and I'm not here to prescribe my bacon-related idealist philosophies.

The bottom line is that this meal actually does boast several desirable Breakfast facets: protein, fiber, vitamin C, a traditional Breakfast meat, and a couple different food groups. I suggest you round out the meal with a glass of OJ, or perhaps a piece of fruit for balance, and enjoy your Breakfast. It may be an unorthodox pairing with which to start the day, but you have my support. Breakfast away, my friend. 

Guest Committee Member Kasey

Confused Human:

As much as I respect my Guest Committee Member's thorough rationale and her personal beliefs about bacon, I cannot bring myself to agree. Brussels Sprouts, while delicious and nutritious, are Not Breakfast. Leftover Dinner is also Not Breakfast, because it has already been Dinner. Bacon is, I agree, most typically Breakfast, but it does have the power to resist two Not Breakfast forces on its own greasy strength.

My final vote is: Brussel Sprouts and Bacon are Awesome but Not Awesome Enough to be Breakfast.


The Committee is Conflicted Inside:

Bacon is Breakfast. Brussel Sprouts are Good for You. Brussel Sprouts and Thick Cut Apple Wood Smoked Bacon Could Possibly be Breakfast.

(But it's not.)

(But Jessy doesn't get to just make decisions by herself; that's why we have a Committee.)

(But it's not!)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Controversial Otter Pop

Dear What Is Breakfast Committee:

As a long-time Breakfast-enthusiast, I tend to try and mix things up for Breakfast on occasion... Who wants the same bland toast, eggs, bacon, or cereal for Breakfast EVERY morning? But with these culinary nuances at hand, I find myself wondering... Is the accompaniment of a typical Breakfast product along with those of the "non-breakfast" staple considered Breakfast? Take for example my Breakfast this morning: Cheerios with 2% milk (obviously Breakfast) with the delightful addition of an Otter Pop. Breakfast? Now it has been said that the likes of a food with the sugar exceeding that of a typical sugar cereal may not be considered Breakfast, but what about an Otter Pop with a miniscule 6 grams of sugar? Is that Breakfast on its own? Or would the partnership of my humble Cheerios allow something of its stature to roam out of its typical classification? I hope you can solve my dilemma, or else I may have been eating Breakfast wrong all along!

With regards,
Famished in Fort Collins
(September 4, 2009) 

Co-chair Jessy: This half of the Committee has no idea what an Otter Pop is. And yet she can declare, with absolute certainty, that it is Not Breakfast.

Judging by the name, it seems like it must either be a) a popsicle in the shape of an Otter, b) a lollipop in the shape of an Otter, or c) a frozen Otter (or part of an otter?) on a stick. The Committee obviously has access to the wonder of "google images," but refuses to employ that venerable tool to answer a question that has already been answered: No, an Otter Pop is Not Breakfast.

(If you had the Cheerios and THEN a Otter Pop, The Committee would be willing to concede that you did have Breakfast, and then immediately followed it with something that was Not Breakfast. However, if you added the Otter Pop to your Cheerios, the Committee can only conclude that you not only did Not eat Breakfast, but you are also a sick, sick man.)

Guest Committee Member David Death: Three and half years have passed since your initial query. A lot has changed since then: dub step is considered real music, Ben Affleck won an Oscar for portraying a Mexican, the ice caps have melted and so has your Otter Pop.

What hasn't changed is breakfast, which is exactly what you have not been eating for the last three and a half years. And that's exactly what I'm here to rectify.

According to a website of my choosing, the Otter Pop is defined as a "frozen snack…filled with a fruit juice liquid." The liquid is neither fruit nor juice, but water filled with flavors - a colored ice cube. Packing a whopping 40 calories, you'll burn more calories bringing the liquid snack up to your mouth than you will consuming it, leaving negative calories. Negative calories are not food, and not food is Not Breakfast.

But this "frozen snack" is curious. What if your frozen snack is two scrambled eggs and bacon blended into a liquid state and left in the freezer? Definitely Breakfast. Oatmeal and raisins shaped into a cone and placed on a stick? Breakfast. Pancakes and hashbrowns? You bet. Hot as lava or cold as Pluto (R.I.P), whatever your temperature preference, Breakfast is Breakfast at any thermometer reading.

So, put your Otter Pop back in the freezer and leave it there. Forever. Because Frozen Liquid Snacks Made of Water and Color are Not Breakfast. You've simply chosen to eat a popsicle after Breakfast and before Lunch. Is it Brunch, you ask? Good question, but we at the What Is Breakfast Committee are not authorized, nor qualified to answer that. Please refer to the Why Does Brunch Matter Community.

A quick note: While an ice cube is not food and definitely Not Breakfast, it should be noted that any meal with Ice Cube is and always will be Breakfast.

The Committee can attest:

An Otter Pop With Breakfast is No Breakfast at All.

(And for the record, our official position is that the Presence or Absence of Iconic Rap Artists Does Not Affect the Status of Breakfast vs. Not Breakfast.)

(And that liquefied-then-frozen eggs may not officially be Breakfast until the year 2063.)

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Toast + Sadness = ?

Today the Committee will be joined by yet another up-and-coming Guest Committee Member, Guest Committee Member Steve. Steve is a writer and a Breakfast-eater who isn't afraid of tackling tough Breakfast problems. Welcome, Steve! The Committee appreciates your help as we continue to work through our formidable backlog of Breakfast queries.

Speaking of which, let's go to the inbox!

Dear What Is Breakfast Committee:

This morning was a normal morning with a normal breakfastbuttered and jammed toast with coffee. I washed the dishes, swept the floor, and immediately proceeded to make another cup of coffee and two more pieces of toast. 

What is this second meal? Is it still breakfast, or has it passed on lunch? Or something in between? And why do I eat when I'm sad? And why didn't this second breakfastlunchthing fill the empty part of my heart like I thought it would? 

-David Black- and Empty-Hearted


Let's start with a fact: Toast and Coffee is Breakfast.

You raise a very good question, however—does the scope of Breakfast extend beyond the initial food-engagement period? Separately, these food-engagements qualify as Breakfast. But does the interstice constitute the beginning of a new meal?

As a rule of thumb, there is a forty-five minute window wherein you can resume Breakfast, no matter the activities undertaken between the first and second food-engagements. If your dishwashing and floor sweeping did not exceed forty-five minutes, and you resumed eating directly after those activities, you are still in Breakfast. If your chores took an hour, the second food-engagement qualifies as Shitty Lunch.

Now to the more pressing issue—your emotional eating. Thank you for bravely discussing your habits with the What Is Breakfast Committee.

I can't speak for all meals, but Breakfast carries with it a great deal of baggage. You have woken to the world, and you'd like to begin the day on a good note. There is innately a lot of pressure attached to Breakfast. The goal is to make Breakfast a positive experience, to serve as a catalyst for more positive experiences throughout the day. Like any emotional eater, once the pleasure of eating is gone, the roots of your negative emotions remain. Your decision to perform small tasks is good, in theory, but once those tasks are completed, your emotional hunger is likely to return. So, how can you help to prevent this emotional hunger?

After your first successful attempt at Breakfast, and after washing dishes and sweeping the floor, why not take a walk? Perhaps you could meet a friend for that second coffee? Take a pottery class at your local community center. Engage in life outside of your home, and outside of Breakfast. Food can be comforting and celebratory, but if you’re not parlaying those positive feelings into more positive feelings, you run the risk of falling into an emotionally negative cycle, much like you're describing.

Also, it's hard to fill a hole in your heart with refined grains and stimulants. Grab an apple and get out there!



You thought you were done with Breakfast, but turns out you weren't.


The Committee Believes:

Any Amount of Toast and Coffee Consumed Within a Reasonable Amount of Time in the Morning is Breakfast.

Further information can be found here.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Frappuccino vs. Strudel

We're back, Friends of Breakfast! And we return with a whole soupload of talented Guest Committee Members to help you with all of your breakfast judgment needs.

The first of the newcomers is Guest Committee Member Lesley, who takes a modest approach to her Breakfast expertise. When interviewed for the position, she stated that, although she "always breakfasts and prefers [her] breakfasts to be delicious," she was not sure that she had the highest possible breakfast standards. However, she then proceeded to list all of her recent breakfasts, which all included members of Breakfast in good standing. We the Committee are delighted to welcome her to the table. 

Dear What Is Breakfast Committee,

I am deciding between A) a coffee frappuccino, made in my blender with ice cream and yesterday's coffee, or B) a Toaster Strudel. Obviously I want to pick the most breakfasty option, but I am torn because A sounds more like a milkshake and B — well I'm not sure B has any real "food" in it at all, mainly cardboard with a jelly filling. Help!


PS I will be eagerly awaiting a reply, as I am hungry and incapable of making my own decisions.

Guest Committee Member Lesley:
Dear Shades, 

I hope you have learned your lesson and are now stocking your pantry with appropriate breakfast foods, like oatmeal and bagels. Your dilemma was so challenging, it took months of deliberation to come up with a suitable recommendation. Finally, I realized I was missing a glaringly obvious disqualifier: ice cream. Ice cream is not breakfast unless it is overpowered by a food that is overwhelmingly breakfasty, like scrambled eggs. One might argue that coffee makes the ice cream breakfast, but this is not so. Coffee is a drink. Drinks are merely incidental to the breakfast meal and do not have the power to wash away the sins of a dessert food masquerading as breakfast. Although I would say that a Toaster Strudel's claim to the breakfastness is tenuous at best, it is certainly the more breakfasty of the two options. 

Final vote: Ice cream plus coffee does not equal Breakfast. Toaster Strudel is only Breakfast by default. 

Co-chair Jessy:
Dear Shades of Strudel,

I agree wholeheartedly with my promising young Guest Committee Member in all respects. Although, unfortunately, now I can't stop thinking about eating eggs with ice cream. And I am a little concerned that our belief in the breakfastness of Toaster Strudels has been forged out of mere cardboard and jelly by the mad men of Pillsbury's marketing team.

Final vote: Day-old Coffee Blended with Ice Cream is Not Breakfast. A Toaster Strudel is Breakfast Because I am a Product of the Capitalist Machine.

The Committee Has Determined:

A Frappuccino is Not Breakfast. A Toaster Strudel is Breakfast When the Cupboards are Bare. Eggs and Ice Cream Should Never Be Eaten or Thought of at the Same Time.