Breakfast Feasts and Lashings of Coffee and Hot MilkJanuary 21, 2010 at 11:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Tags: breakfast, Christianna Brand, coffee, Five on a Hike Together, Fortnum & Mason, Hackney City Farm, honey, hot milk, Jane Brocket, Nurse Matilda, porridge
In the spirit of the previous post, it’s time to celebrate breakfast. This repast from Five on a Hike Together is a memorable and well-earned one. Dick and Anne have been separated from Julian, George and Timmy and end up spending the night at a horrible farmhouse where something strange happens… When the cousins are reunited the next day they sit down for a feast and an update on their adventures. I particularly like the idea of the children drinking coffee with hot milk – a mixture of sophistication and comfort:
‘A wonderful smell came creeping into the little dining room, followed by the inn-woman carrying a large tray. On it was a steaming tureen of of porridge, a bowl of golden syrup, a jug of very thick cream, and a dish of bacon and eggs, all piled high on crisp brown toast. Little mushrooms were on the same dish.
“It’s like magic!” said Anne, staring. “Just the very things I longed for!”
“Toast, marmalade and butter to come, and the coffee and hot milk,” said the woman, busily setting everything out. “And if you want any more bacon and eggs, just ring the bell”
“Too good to be true!” said Dick, looking at the table. “For goodness’ sake, help yourselves girls or I shall forget my manners and grab.”
Porridge is a staple breakfast food at this time of year and is memorably described in innumerable children’s books, from several of Blyton’s series (FF and the Barney ‘R’ stories immediately spring to mind) to the surreal breakfast in Christianna Brand’s 1964 novel, Nurse Matilda. Jane Brocket includes a guideline recipe for porridge (to be served with thick cream) in Cherry Cake and Ginger Beer. As she notes, some people hold that porridge should be made just with milk, others plump for a mixture of milk and water.
I’m definitely in the latter camp but proper FF porridge probably does need full cream milk with extra cream. It’s useful to know that the more you stir porridge as it cooks, the creamier it will be. Golden syrup is the topping of choice in virtually every children’s book I’ve ever read, but I’m a fan of honey.
Given the plight of British bees it’s important to try and buy British (and preferably local) honey – some beekeepers’ reports suggest that within ten years time the British honeybee will be a thing of the past. This Telegraph article from 2008 (yes, it is written by someone called Bee Wilson) is quite interesting. Apparently only 5 per cent of British honey is sold through supermarkets so visit your local farmers’ market or track down your local beekeepers through the official website of the British Beekeepers’ Association.
Fortum & Mason sell some fancily packaged and no doubt tasty British honey. If you have too much money you can buy this miniature bee hive complete with a pot of honey made by bees who live on the roof of Fortnum’s Piccadilly store (according to F&M they ‘visit only the best gardens’). Personally, I think it’s the rarefied atmosphere of London, and particularly the east end, that gives metropolitan honeys a distinctive flavour – honey from the Hackey City Farm is very good and is a fraction of the price.