FOOD & CULTURE: What's for breakfast?

February 5, 2018

Bunny on the breakfast table, observing the feast,  in the garden in Sariyer.

Breakfast is my favorite meal and it is the meal which opened my mind to the idea that food and culture are as related as language and culture, and it started me on my journey of food and culture. Next week, I will give a seminar on this topic FOOD & CULTURE at my Nutritional Therapy alma mater and preparing for this seminar has prompted me to review my relationship to breakfast and share this post.

 

Once I was honored to assist a dear pal in writing a book called "Breakfasts with Kaptan June". This book was a sort of memoir told through the lens of breakfasts, from childhood to maturity, her breakfasts around the world. We are soul friends, and in part this is due to our mutual love of breakfast. As she indicates in this book, there are two kinds of people, those who love breakfast and those who skip it altogether, no in betweens. I am a breakfast lover and around the world I am fascinated by what people eat, in particular how they 'break their fast'.

 

Years of living in Russia changed my approach to breakfast forever. What was for dinner, was fair game for breakfast. In India, savory meals with sweat spiced chai made their mark. While I am yet incapable of making those fabulous rice pancake things, following my Russian model I am happy to have lentils and rice for breakfast, a dash of coconut milk makes it all the better. I have even perfected my own version of chai.

 

Italians have the most American approach to breakfast, in that it is sweet and quick. A brioche (Italian version of a croissant) and a cappuccino is the standard, standing up and on the run. As a Nutritional Therapist, eating this as a daily start to the day  is a recipe for diabetes, however I do love it on the occasion when I am in Italy - supplemented with the nuts I keep in my pocket.
 

My all time favorite place (to date) for breakfast is Turkey. Pictured above, a typical breakfast on a visit to another soul friend in Istanbul. This particular breakfast was under the shade of the magnolia tree in the internal garden of her home on the Bosphorus on a HOT summer day in June 2016. Breakfast is a medley of sweet and savory, and in the tradition I have learned/cultivated over years of living and loving in Turkey, the meal begins with savory bits and hot tea slowly progressing towards sweet treats and rich Turkish coffee. Turkish breakfast can easily take you through to lunch, at their best 2 hour affairs. Tears come to my eyes as I write, memories of these breakfasts are enough to swell my heart to oversized dimensions.

 

My rich tapestry of breakfast memories can make eating a quick meal on my own while heading off to the office daunting. This gluten free soda bread has helped me build a bridge from those fabulous 2 hour meals filled with as much dizzying conversation and love as food itself, to the 15-20 minutes I share with my own spirit before I head to an office, meeting, or any professional gig.  

 

This bread is a meal in itself and can be both savory and sweet at once. Combined with a creamy goat cheese, an egg and or jam it sums up the Turkish breakfasts of my dreams. Coupled with a rich cappuccino or a spicy chai it brings in my other cultural memories to make breakfast the meal it is meant to be for me, a solid base - both physical and psychological - upon which to build the day. Extra bonus, it can make the perfect breakfast base for any one who loves whole foods.

 The original Bunnies share breakfast with Bunny & Bearli overlooking the sea near the Turkish village of Kabak

 

 

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