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Breakfast: A History
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Breakfast: A History (The Meals Series)

3.76  ·  Rating Details ·  92 Ratings  ·  25 Reviews
Breakfast: A History tells the story of how breakfast came to be the most important meal of the day. From the humble Roman times of stale bread soaked in diluted wine, to the drive-through McMuffin boom of the 1970s, Breakfast takes the reader on a lively adventure through time, uncovering the real stories behind our favorite breakfast foods. Breakfast is not just the meal ...more
Hardcover, First, 230 pages
Published May 2013 by AltaMira Press (first published January 1st 2013)
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The Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanKitchen Confidential by Anthony BourdainAnimal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara KingsolverFast Food Nation by Eric SchlosserIn Defense of Food by Michael Pollan
Food-Related Non-Fiction
82nd out of 761 books — 1,406 voters
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Food & Drink Histories
2nd out of 115 books — 23 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Jun 30, 2013 Mara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the kind of books that as a professional translator I love. They challenge you on every phrase, they astound you with the sheer amount of knowledge they show. They make you despair at being able to reproduce the wit and sarcasm.

As a reader I was bellyaching at the end. First because I had to stop and organize a serious breakfast midway through. I simply could not resist. (FYI: scones, British of course, barley salad with goat cheese (pecorino) and tomatoes, fresh cherries and strawberri
Apr 17, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
This book isn't even available to the public until later this year, yet I have already managed to read the whole thing and review it. How is this possible? That's not important. The important thing is that this book is the only book about the history of breakfast you will ever need to read. Did you know eating breakfast was once considered a low-class or even immoral act? Do you know how cornflakes were invented? Do you wonder what Quentin Tarantino is doing on the pages of Breakfast: A History? ...more
Mark Russell
Apr 17, 2013 Mark Russell rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I'm not a "foodie." I barely know anything about food beyond what's good at the Whole Foods deli. And yet, I was utterly captivated by Breakfast. It's just the right combination of information, witty insight, and surprisingly hilarious quotes and anecdotes from history's never-ending quest for the perfect breakfast.
sarah gilbert
Apr 18, 2013 sarah gilbert rated it it was amazing
Shelves: writers-i-know
Like Rebecca Kelley, I was fortunate to read this book in workshop, and we would compete with each other every week to say "funny!" "fascinating!" and "I can't believe I never knew that!" in new ways. Heather is snarky and sly but does not let her sense of humor get in the way of a truly deep and intelligent analysis of the history of everything from gruel to huevos rancheros for breakfast. She plumbs the depths of classical literature and history for information on breakfasts enjoyed by great p ...more
Jul 12, 2013 Angel rated it really liked it
Actually, I would give this 4.5, but Goodreads does not allow fractions it seems. At any rate, this is a very good book, one I think will become the "go to" book on the topic.

You can read my full review of the book on my blog, The Itinerant Librarian, at the link.

Feb 22, 2014 Sarah rated it really liked it
Very interesting, really good discussion on breakfast. I never knew the Catholic church banned breakfast. I never really thought about why the foods we eat are considered breakfast- or more importantly that they once weren't. While I wished she had done more on none western cultures, they do make an appearance and there is a lot of fascinating stuff in a fairly fast read.
Art Edwards
Dec 09, 2013 Art Edwards rated it it was amazing
Engaging and urbane and fun, this book oozes like a broken egg yoke with Arndt Anderson's wealth of culinary knowledge, witty asides, and delicious quotes from days of breakfast yore. If you don't like this book, I'll eat beef tongue for breakfast for a month.
Dec 31, 2014 Kara rated it it was amazing

An awesome little micro history. A surprising amount of serious, dramatic history behind what many consider a sedate, quiet meal.
Oct 06, 2014 Mark marked it as to-read
Recommended to Mark by: Angel Rivera
Shelves: history
Nov 29, 2016 Kerry rated it it was ok
Shelves: food-and-drink
If there was a competition for most boring food writing, this book would win an award. It reads like a dissertation or a reference book. Breakfast is a beautiful meal; what a shame to subject it to such treatment.
Courtney Stoker
This felt like a reference book instead of a history. There are a bunch of mini-chapters devoted to different foods or media, but none tell an actual story and any references between them feel accidental. This book tells no stories and is instead and awkward collection of descriptions.
Robert Peate
Sep 19, 2013 Robert Peate rated it it was amazing
Ms. Anderson presents a history of "the most important meal of the day" from antiquity to the present, highlighting the interesting stories behind what we do and what we no longer do. Did you know the ancient Greeks ate donuts? Do you know what they dipped them in? It wasn't coffee or tea. Ms. Anderson seasons her history with the perfect mixture of facts, quotations, and witticisms designed to keep the reader both educated and entertained. Her research alone is astounding, but her writing ...more
Danielle T
Dec 16, 2013 Danielle T rated it really liked it
Shelves: food, history
Short read (took slightly longer than usual because finals and visiting family), but a good detailed history behind the first meal of the day- various cultures, different diets, etc.

Still trying to figure out how my mother (born and raised in the South) never heard of chicken and waffles until the last decade, but perhaps that's because of its origins (late night/early morning food for jazz performers).
Jerry Cheung
Feb 13, 2015 Jerry Cheung rated it it was ok
I grabbed this book without reading the book jacket because the cover and title. I love breakfast. Who doesn't?

It was fun to skim and pick out random bits of cool trivia. But the author wasn't joking about the "a history" part. At times, it feels too academic and stuffy, like an excited professor lecturing the gritty details.
Dec 04, 2014 Pancha rated it liked it
Shelves: history, food
This book has lots of interesting tidbits about breakfast the meal and breakfast food items, but some of the information really overlaps to the point that it sometimes feels like the early chapters were written as separate essays and rather than parts of a larger whole.
Reine Gentozala
Apr 18, 2015 Reine Gentozala rated it really liked it
Just started and on the second page she mentions the mythical yellow emperor as Qin Shi Huangdi. Qin Shi Huangdi is the first emperor of China and Huangdi is the mythical yellow emperor. Let's see if this book will disappoint more. I guess get your China facts straight.
Sep 19, 2014 Joan rated it liked it
A witty survey of breakfast food and traditions, focusing mainly on western brekker (from stale bread dipped in wine to an Egg McMuffin). Fun reading, although it could have done with a bit more nutritional analysis and more inclusion of non-European breakfast traditions.
Sep 17, 2013 Rachel rated it did not like it
I wanted to like this book but I just found it too dry and poorly written (and I like dry history). I could not get through the second chapter. Unfortunately I just cannot recommend this book as a good read.
Jan 18, 2014 Debra rated it liked it
Shelves: food, history
Perhaps more than you really wanted to know on the social history of breakfast, chiefly but not exclusively Anglo-American. Full of fascinating trivias, I enjoyed this book but was glad to be finished as well. No recipes. Now off to try corn oysters, a dish first encountered within these pages.
Yet another microhistory! This one did a nice job discussing the "most important meal of the day": breakfast.
Jul 12, 2014 Tess rated it it was ok
I wasn't a fan of the organization of the book, which seem to lead to a lot of repetition. It felt like much more of a recitation of facts than a general history through time.
Michelle rated it really liked it
Sep 26, 2015
Gary Obaob
Gary Obaob rated it really liked it
Apr 15, 2014
Kate rated it liked it
Feb 13, 2015
Frank Moore
Frank Moore rated it it was amazing
Jun 12, 2015
Feb 01, 2014 Hope rated it really liked it
Neat look at the history of breakfast.
Scott rated it it was ok
Jun 15, 2014
Linda Armstrong
Linda Armstrong rated it really liked it
Aug 07, 2015
viviana rated it it was amazing
May 14, 2016
Celeste rated it really liked it
Dec 02, 2013
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Preorder information 1 6 Feb 01, 2013 02:57PM  
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Heather Arndt Anderson is a Portland, Oregon-based writer. She writes about food and culinary history.

Heather is the author of Chillies: A Global History, Portland: A Food Biography (Baltimore: Rowman & Littlefield Studies in Food and Gastronomy, 2014) and Breakfast: A History (Baltimore: AltaMira, 2013). Her recipes have been published in the cookbook One Big Table: 600 Recipes from the Nati
More about Heather Arndt Anderson...

Other Books in the Series

The Meals Series (5 books)
  • The Picnic: A History
  • Lunch: A History
  • Brunch: A History
  • Barbecue: A History

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