A book and a breakfast (for dinner)

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh,” said Piglet at last, “what’s the first thing you say to yourself?”
“What’s for breakfast?” said Pooh. “What do you say, Piglet?”
“I say, I wonder what’s going to happen exciting today?” said Piglet.
Pooh nodded thoughtfully. “It’s the same thing.”

Breakfast is what sets the pace for the day, as we dream about what good things might happen after we finish our toast and coffee. Maybe that is why I can have breakfast for any meal. No matter what time a day you eat it, the sense of impending opportunities always follows.

I recently purchased the book Whole-Grain Mornings by Megan Gordon of A Sweet Spoonful. Don’t be mistaken by the ‘whole grain’ title…this book isn’t a diet book. It is about real food, food that is hearty and wholesome and nourishing and unconventional. I’ve never cooked my way through a cookbook before, but, seeing as I dream about grain-based breakfast foods, I figured this would be a good place to start. And I began with this:

PumpkinRisotto

In the end I would have cooked the rice longer and used less liquid when baking because it a) was a little too sweet from all the apple juice and b) didn’t absorb as much as it needed to. So the result was kind of soupy and much better the next day after the rice had soaked up some of the liquid overnight. But it is very filling, tasty, and easy to make. All of which equal a win in my book.

I finished the last of it this weekend as I finally finished the book Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo.

beautifulforevers

The chapters jump back and forth between different individuals living in a Mumbai slum, diving into the sordid and beautiful details of their lives as the plot orbits a central confrontation that directly influences the lives of two families while simultaneously illuminating the trials the majority of India’s poor face on a daily basis. It is a moving and personal way to learn about Indian political and economic history and the pervasive culture of corruption that has emerged in the last few decades.

I don’t know much about reporting, but I have a feeling this book might be the new standard for narrative journalism. Every person and every story in this work is true, and while the author takes some artistic license in interpreting individual thoughts and feelings, she claims to base all of her extrapolations on interviews. It is a story of heartbreaking resilience, devastating defeat, and murky hope. I would highly recommend it. An excerpt:

In places where government priorities and market imperatives create a world so capricious that to help a neighbor is to risk your ability to feed your family, and sometimes even your own liberty, the idea of the mutually supportive poor community is demolished. The poor blame one another for the choices of governments and markets, and we who are not poor are ready to blame the poor just as harshly. It is easy, from a safe distance, to overlook the fact that in undercities governed by corruption, where exhausted people vie on scant terrain for very little, it is blisteringly hard to be good. The astonishment is that some people are good, and that many people try to be—all those invisible individuals who every day find themselves faced with dilemmas not unlike the one Abdul confronted, stone slab in hand, one July afternoon when his life exploded. If the house is crooked and crumbling, and the land on which it sits uneven, is it possible to make anything lie straight?

I made my second attempt at a Whole Grain Morning’s breakfast last night and, once again, was satisfied. I’ll save that one for another time though. To leave you with the wisdom of a friend when asked if he wouldn’t mind eating breakfast for dinner: “Is there an American who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner?” Best answer.

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