Saturday, July 24, 2010


My favourite meal while I was in school was dinner. Apart from the fact that dinner was the only meal departing from the usual dal, sabzi, roti, it also gave time to the whole family to sit around the table, enjoy a fresh, hot meal while listening to how each of our day went. Sometimes we'd talk about an upcoming exam, maybe a birthday or the dreaded homework/habits talk. At other times we'd rush to find a prime seat in the TV room to enjoy the best and most comfortable view of the television, while holding the plate in one hand and eating from the other. No matter what the situation, dinner was always together, as far as possible. 

Over the years as my college began, and then hostel life, my partiality for dinner was replaced by a new-found liking for breakfast. Breakfast meant 'me' time, especially in hostel. While all my roomies would eat in a rush to reach the early morning lecture, I'd eat breakfast over almost an hour, watching new on TV and reading a newspaper if I got my hands on it.
When we were in school breakfast used to be utterly chaotic. I'd get dressed and dunk the milk, while grabbing the sandwich or rolling the aloo paratha in one hand, the school bag in another and made a dash for the bus stop. In this rush I hardly got a chance to appreciate the variety of breakfasts Mom would prepare.Somehow Mom always came up with a new twist in the old sandwich, or a normal paratha and that after preparing our tiffins and lunch.

In the hostel the breakfast was standard. I was the happiest on the days when we got bread and eggs to order because the poha was generally too dry, the upma too sticky or the aloo parathas had very little stuffing. Plus, there was always shortage of milk or the milk was watery. The solution to this problem was simple, I replaced bournvita with coffee. Someone watery coffee never tasted bad as opposed to watery bournvita. Till then we used to have coffee occasionally after dinner, but suddenly coffee became my morning companion.
Now that I live with my relatives, my breakfasts are very random. What can be more enjoyable than eating whatever you like!  Most days I alternate between sandwich, paratha with pickle, cornflakes, moong and eggs. The sandwiches range from classic cheese, veggie sandwich, salami sandwich or my unlikely favourite boiled egg sandwich and untoasted cucumber sandwich. Sometimes I use my mom's trick and have egg with paratha as it is quite wholesome. However  my glass of milk stays and takes varied forms - hot coffee, bournvita, hot chocolate, tea, fruit shakes etc. I now experiment with having tea, black/green when I wake up and then filter coffee with breakfast. Having switched to filter coffee, instant coffee is hardly satisfying! 

Some of my most cherished breakfasts have been away from Home, especially since I love to travel. Our family takes trips often and I've eaten breakfasts in so many cities that its hard to count. The steaming idlis, dosas, idiappams and a cup of filter coffee from my trips down South always lift my mood. The hot fried breakfast items such as gathiya, samosa, kachori, vada pav find their way into the best street-food breakfast items. It is a workable solution to office rush, not necessarily to the waistline. The North Indian breakfasts are in another league. You name an ingredient and you get a paratha stuffed with it. The traditional English breakfast is also slowly finding way into Indian homes. I love cornflakes, spanish omelettes, fruit bread, an occasional pancake when I'm having breakfast out and mandatory juice.

I remember my parents telling me about breakfast when they were younger. It mostly comprised of roti, with some pickle, or glucon-D biscuit and chai. But never was breakfast so elaborate as now. I guess I'm lucky to have been spoilt with breakfast options. Yet, there are many items which I'm yet to try at home - pancakes, assorted fresh fruits, protein bars etc.
The experts recommend a hearty breakfast.  I abide by it, especially since I love it. I can skip dinner, but I definitely cannot skip a full breakfast, complete with reading the paper, watching news and chit-chatting with my family (if time permits). 
I couldn't agree more with John Gunther who said and I quote, "All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast". The change from being a loyal dinner fan to a breakfast person suits me just fine. With the sometimes crazy work hours, social life, study time, its a better to have a leisurely breakfast than to wait for dinner to unwind, because if I'm at peace in the morning, the day invariably goes well.

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