I don’t know what it is, but these days, I keep meeting people who tell me they don’t eat breakfast. Inevitably, these are the same people who don’t watch TV and have no idea what herbal tea is. I'm not sure what the connection is, but I’m sure not liking it.
“Where do you meet these people?” Saffy asks, smug in the knowledge that all her friends are breakfast junkies. Their favourite spot in the world, after a spa and a shoe shop, is a place that serves all-day breakfast. The other day, I rang Saffy at 3.30 in the afternoon to find her chowing down on a bowl of granola that was soon to be followed by eggs benedict.
“See you for dinner tonight!” she mumbled through a mouthful of walnuts and toasted sesame seeds.
I once worked in an office where the staff would rock up at 8.45 with their packets of economy mee and plastic bag of coffee, and proceed to get grease all over their keyboards and desks. One day, I realized that these were the same people I got along best with, while the people I had the least time for were the ones who didn’t eat breakfast. Again, I’m not sure what the connection is, but, even then, I wasn’t liking it all that much either.
When I was growing up, we were all fed the same thing every morning. Two soft-boiled eggs sprinkled with soy sauce and white pepper, followed by a spoonful of cod liver oil. For years, that’s all we had and for some bizarre reason, we never rebelled even though the cod liver oil – a thick white milky goo that tasted of sour milk – was the foulest way to kick off your day.
Today, if your kids were on the same diet, you’d probably have someone from child services knocking on your door demanding to know why you were feeding your kids such a high protein diet, and didn’t you know that there were health concerns about the mercury content in cod liver?
But my point is, we had something to eat every morning. And eventually, as we grew up, we moved beyond the soft boiled eggs and onto other things like cereal, and mee pok and roti prata, and bacon and eggs, and bagels.
“How you eat like that?” Sharyn whined one morning as she sat with us in Maxwell Street market and watched Saffy inhale a bowl of mee rebus and chased it down with a big mug of sugar cane juice. Amanda daintily dipped a yau zhar gui into her coffee, while I gobbled down a jumbo sized portion of nasi lemak.
“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day!” Amanda told Sharyn.
“That’s so true,” Saffy said, brown gravy staining her upper lip like a moustache.
“Where got!” Sharyn replied stoutly. “Dinner is most important!”
“That’s true too,” Saffy said.
“Ay, you, ah! Make up your mind, can? How can breakfast and dinner both be the most important meal?”
“Well, it depends on the time of day,” Saffy said, letting her tone do all the work of sounding like it was speaking to a four year old with the IQ of a blunt pencil. “When it’s the morning, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. When it’s afternoon, it’s lunch, and when evening comes, it’s dinner!”
“You should have been a dietician, Saf,” I told her.
Saffy’s bosom, currently encased within a tight tee-shirt that said ‘Eat and Sleep’, inflated. “I know, right? I’d have been so good at it!”
Sometimes, people tell me the reason they don’t eat breakfast in the morning is because they don’t have time. And the other day, I met someone who said she often forgot to eat because she was so busy rushing around getting the kids ready for school.
“But how do you forget?” I asked. “Don’t your kids have breakfast, too?”
Margaret hesitated. “Well…yes, they do, but…”
“So, if they’re having breakfast,” I pressed, “doesn’t that remind you that you haven’t eaten?”
Margaret sighed. “One day, when you have children of your own, you’ll understand.”
Saffy said if forgetting to make time for breakfast isn’t a good enough reason not to have children, she didn’t know what is.
“I mean, really, your body is already stretched right out of shape on account of the pregnancy and all you get for your efforts is school fees, memory loss and no breakfast? What is the point of children in the first place?”
Amanda begged Saffy not to say such things in public.
“No, really, what is the point?” Saffy wanted to know.