Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Eat This And Die

They say that breakfast is the meal of champions. General Mills says that Wheaties are the breakfast of champions. New Zealanders say 'eat your breakfast and you'll look and act like a Champion'. I can only assume that they're referring to a Champion spark plug. Eat what's pictured above (I tried and failed) and you'll be thick in the middle with sparks flying out of your bottom. Way to go, champ.

I love New Zealand and I've made this point before. Nothing has changed. It's just the breakfasts that made this country one serving shy of Shangri-La. Perhaps you read my posting about spaghetti on toast? Well, it gets worse...much worse.

There can't be too many people in Western society who aren't guilty of over-indulgence, at least once in a while. I've been the anaconda who has eaten the goat. I've had a pancake in Maine that was the size of a tractor tire, and every bit as filling. Oh Deere! I've persevered through a full English breakfast in Scotland (bacon, fried eggs, sausage, fried tomatoes, fried mushrooms and the killer....fried bread). Thank god it's fried, eh? It took the rest of the week to see it 'through'.

I used to consider the full English breakfast to be the Everest of morning munchies, until I ordered the Kiwi K2. I was in a restaurant in Gisbourne (NZ) on the sunny, wave lapped east coast of the north island. I liked everything about Gisbourne except...


I wandered into a simple looking restaurant with two friends. We arrived shortly after sunrise, hoping to get fuelled up for the day's activities. I eagerly scanned the menu as I was feeling quite peckish. The prices were obscenely low which I interpreted as a sign that the portions would be equally small. Eggs and toast sounded insubstantial so I opted for the bread and ova with fish. I don't make a habit of eating gills for breakfast except when traveling (think kippers in Scotland). I sat down and waited for brekkie to arrive.

As I was waiting at my table, enjoying the morning sunlight streaming through the windows, I couldn't help but notice two burly men struggling with something near the kitchen door. They seemed to be engaged in a fight, not with each other, but with the item they were trying to carry. Eventually there was a pause in the commotion while one disappeared. He returned moments later with a wheelbarrow, after which the men lifted the item into the barrow. One man pushed the wheelbarrow toward me, while the other steadied the load.

They stopped at my table. With a grunt and a heave-ho, they delivered the item to my place mat. The table groaned under the weight. I groaned at the sight. What had I just done? The large men lumbered off to a corner and collapsed.

Breakfast, was served.

I enjoy eggs and toast every now and again. It's a welcome change from my usual fruit, yogurt and granola. I enjoy fish and chips once in a while for supper, when I'm feeling naughty (or lazy or stupid). I usually regret ordering fish and chips, but not until I've eaten every last speck off the plate, including the fries that have clearly gone through the grease twice. What I've discovered is that...a breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, sitting on fried fish, resting on french fries, shouldered by toast, accented by fried tomatoes, and punctuated by mushrooms...is not a healthy meal. Well, it is one healthy meal, sort of, and one unhealthy meal. It's like eating a salad and washing it down with two litres of Coke, except far more disgusting.

Note to long haul truckers who may be reading this: most people don't eat like this, so wipe the look of disbelief off your face. A breakfast like this...IS. NOT. NORMAL.

If I managed to eat one half of my breakfast, by weight measured in kilos, then it was a miracle. I felt awful. I felt awful for what I ordered. I felt awful what what I couldn't eat. When I was little my mom used to use the 'starving kiddies in Africa' line in order to coerce me into finishing my meals. It wasn't a particularly philosophical argument. Don't waste food, so eat more than you want. I wasn't clever enough, at the time, to engage mom in a debate about food portions. I should have said 'don't give me so many Lima beans, or stopping making liver for supper', but I was young and stunned. I just sat there and whined, then ate my glandular organ and exotic Peruvian legumes.

I may never be a morning Champion, but I do try to deliver a spark of inspiration each day. Now go eat your breakfast before your fish sticks drown in your Wheaties!

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