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200 × 150 × 21 mm
232 pages
75 illustrations, 59 in colour
01 Feb 2013
  • £19.95

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The Breakfast Book Andrew Dalby

The most important meal of the day is also one of the most diverse. Breakfast varies greatly from family to family and region to region, even while individuals tend to eat the same thing every day. While Americans traditionally like to start the day with eggs, cereal and doughnuts, the Japanese eat rice and miso soup, and the Yoruba enjoy maize porridge and beans. But while we know that you drink tea with your eggs and bacon in Britain and hot chocolate with churros in Spain, we don’t know how the morning meal came to be. The Breakfast Book collects stories of breakfast around the world in an attempt to pin down the mottled history of eating in the morning.

In search of what people have thought and written about breakfast – and tasted – Andrew Dalby traces the meal’s origins back to the Neolithic revolution. He follows the trail from the ancient Near East and classical Greece to modern Europe and across the globe, rediscovering stories of breakfast in 3,000 years of fiction, memoirs and art. Using a multitude of entertaining breakfast facts, anecdotes and images, he reveals why breakfast is so often the backdrop for unexpected meetings, why so many people eat breakfast out, and why this often silent meal is also so reassuring.

Featuring a selection of historic and contemporary breakfast recipes from around the world, The Breakfast Book is the first history of this inimitable meal and will make an ideal morning companion to kedgeree, croissants and noodle soup alike.

‘To dip into this compendium is to be forcefully and happily reminded that breakfast, the full English or otherwise, should be the best meal of the day . . . the art is handsomely reproduced . . . Between us, Id say that anyone as obsessed with the idea of breakfast as Dalby should be locked up. But he has nevertheless written a marvelously toothsome compendium.’ — The Literary Review

‘Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so they say and it will seem even more so after reading The Breakfast Book. Part cultural history, part recipe book, it traces the origins of the meal in Neolithic times and explores different traditions around the world today.’ — Elle Decoration

‘Contemporary nutritionists tout breakfast as the days most important meal. Having delved deeply into history and literature, Dalby finds that such an opinion has not always ruled. Dalby’s erudite approach will appeal to anyone who takes seriously this oft-neglected repast.’ — Booklist

‘In this volume, Dalby, a historian and translator, presents a flurry of literary examples, mostly European, to prove the varieties of breakfast across time from Homer to Cervantes, from Lawrence to Steinbeck . . . The book also presents a wonderful sampling of breakfasting around the world today, such as how they breakfast on churros in Spain or anise-flavored ground cereal in Libya.’ — Publishers Weekly

‘It’s impossible to read this book without feeling amused, edified and hungry. It has certainly convinced me that breakfast is the best meal of the day.’ — Paul Levy

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Andrew Dalby is a linguist, translator and historian, based in France. He is the author of many books, including Bacchus: A Biography (2005), Flavours of Byzantium (2003), Food in the Ancient World from A to Z (2003) and Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices (2000), which was named Food Book of the Year by the Guild of Food Writers. He has also written Empire of Pleasures (2000), Siren Feasts: A History of Food and Gastronomy in Greece (1996), which won the Runciman Award, Cheese: A Global History (Reaktion, 2009) and The Breakfast Book (Reaktion Books, 2013).


Prologue: Four Breakfasts
1. Breakfast: Origin, Evolution and Name
2. Breakfast Through Time
3. Breakfast Across Space
4. Variables
5. Feeling for Breakfast
Epilogue: Damer’s Muffins

Sources of Quotations
Photo Acknowledgements