At the home of Baron Bradwardine, Waverley enjoys a true Scottish breakfast: “The table loaded with warm bread, both of flour, oatmeal, and barleymeal, in the shape of loaves, cakes, biscuits, and other varieties, together with eggs, reindeer ham, mutton and beef ditto, smoked salmon, and marmalade.” There’s porridge with cream and buttermilk too.
Ulysses, by James Joyce Leopold Bloom sees breakfast in the butcher’s shop window. “A kidney oozed bloodgouts on the willowpatterned dish: the last.” We see and smell it cooking in butter and pepper, almost burnt when it goes upstairs to his wife, but just saved. “He tossed it off the pan on to a plate and let the scanty brown gravy trickle over it.”
Crotchet Castle, by Thomas Love Peacock The Rev Dr Folliot expresses his breakfast preferences. “Chocolate, coffee, tea, cream, eggs, ham, tongue, cold fowl, all these are good, and bespeak good knowledge in him who sets them forth: but the touchstone is fish.” The divine then composes his spirits “by the gentle sedative of a large cup of tea, the demulcent of a well-buttered muffin, and the tonic of a small lobster.”
From Russia with Love, by Ian Fleming James Bond’s breakfast, supposed to demonstrate his fine taste, is a memorable exercise in prissiness. Coffee from De Bry in New Oxford Street, toast with Norwegian heather honey from Fortnum’s, a single brown egg from a French Marans hen.
The Hobbit, by JRR Tolkien Bilbo spends much of his adventure lamenting the lack of a decent breakfast, while the only real morning feast is consumed by Gandalf: “Two whole loaves (with masses of butter and honey and clotted cream) and at least a quart of mead,” finished off, of course, with a delicious breakfast pipe of tobacco.
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Brontë On Jane’s first morning at Lowood School, the pupils are served basins of something hot, which “sent forth an odour far from inviting”. “I devoured a spoonful or two of my portion without thinking of its taste . . . burnt porridge is almost as bad as rotten potatoes; famine itself soon sickens over it”.
“Filboid Studge, the Story of a Mouse that Helped”, by Saki A ghastly breakfast cereal called Pipenta is rebranded as Filboid Studge, with an irresistible ad campaign. “One huge sombre poster depicted the Damned in Hell suffering a new torment from their inability to get at the Filboid Studge”. Soon it is every Puritan’s breakfast.
Jeeves Takes Charge, by PG Wodehouse Bertie’s relationship with Jeeves begins when the new valet arrives to find his employer badly hungover and offers him a concoction of egg yolk, Worcestershire sauce, cinnamon oil, cognac and other mystery ingredients. The restorative effect is immediate and a partnership is sealed.
Gravity’s Rainbow, by Thomas Pynchon Pirate Prentice’s flat fills with “the fragile, musaceous odour of Breakfast, permeating, suprising, more than the color of winter sunlight”. He serves up banana waffles, banana croissants, banana kreplach and banana jam. In a giant crock he has bananas fermented with honey and Muscat raisins to make banana mead.
The Warden, by Anthony Trollope Just one of the ecclesiastical morning feasts detailed in Trollope’s fiction: “there were eggs in napkins, and crispy bits of bacon under silver covers; and there were little fishes in a little box, and devilled kidneys frizzling on a hot-water dish”. As well as the best tea, the blackest coffee, and the thickest cream, on top of every kind of bread and muffin and crumpet.