You are either a morning person or you’re not. I definitely peak sometime past 10pm, so these 5.30am starts are literally killing me! Even my stomach can’t function at such ridiculous times of the day. Prep work needs nothing more than an espresso and a cigarette to oil the cogs (like all good Italians), so these days, breakfast thoughts don’t start to surface until the sun is firmly on the horizon. When decent O’clock turns up, I might grab a Panini or smash a fresh tomato in between some fresh bread with olive oil and salt, but by all intents its closer to lunch by then.
Maybe my culinary body-clock has been spoilt by a lifetime of early morning fishing. Hauling fresh tuna off the boat, letting it rest and then carving fresh sashimi off the bone with nothing but a carpet of blue sea and warm sun on your back spoils the idea of eating among the road sweepers and traffic of Fulham Road! Like the time when my Dad and I were invited to share Vope fish by an old fisherman sitting in a bay in Malta. Eating fish fresh out of the Med, humbly cooked on a charcoal griddle was life changing. Simple and honest food will always grab your heart, even if your body isn’t quite awake.
After all, breakfast is supposed to be the most important meal of the day. I can’t completely agree (lunch, snacks and dinner are pretty cool) but I reckon a good start to the day complements everything that comes after. In fact some of my favourite meals have taken place before my subconscious has had a chance to run through the ‘to do’ list.
Long before kids, Alice and I were in Sydney for a friend’s wedding. The jetlag had us awake at 5am, so we headed down to the famous Sydney Fish Market to watch the boats coming in from the night’s trawl. The vibrancy of the fresh fish: Coral Trout, Moreton Bay Bugs, Blue Swimmer Crabs and the famous Pacific Oysters along with the morning hustle of the market and smell of the sea has melted into my memory as one of the best breakfast venues. A can of coke and some deep fried goujons amidst the backdrop of Blackwattle Bay definitely beats an Egg McMuffin on Wandsworth roundabout.
Not all my breakfast eateries have been quite so spectacular but I can highly recommend the airport snack bar in Narita airport, Tokyo. A bowl of plain white rice, tuna tartare topped with a raw egg, wasabi and soy sauce! As the chop sticks make a cavity for the egg to fall into the rice and tuna…the world stops beating and it’s just you and Breakfast.
These days a good breakfast is not in such exotic locations but homemade French toast, hot out of the pan with peanut butter, a fresh pot of coffee and the laughter of kid’s running the honey tube empty still bring a smile to my morning.
Maybe 5am is too early, even for that, but breakfast traditions are important because the family are still cocooned together, dreams fresh in the memory and you can take the time to savour a moment. I suppose that is what breakfast is about: starting the day with something special, welcoming you back from the land of sleep and setting the day for something good. I can’t promise sunrise on the Med or culinary ecstasy every day – that would just be greedy, but an effort every so often with people you love, that’s a pretty cool meal.