Last night I had breakfast for dinner. I know a lot of people do it, but I don’t do it very often. Something seems wrong about it, but at the same time intriguing. You grow up having certain foods for breakfast, lunch and dinner, and you never think about why things are the way they are when it comes to menu choices. In North American culture, it somehow seems like you might be breaking some rule if you eat pancakes for dinner, or pizza for breakfast. But in any culture, how did these ideas of eating certain foods at certain times of day become the rule?
First, let’s consider the egg, a common breakfast food. It makes sense that they would be consumed in the mornings, just after they were laid, when they were nice and fresh. A good source of protein, and easy to cook before you have to get off to work. After doing some research, I discovered that in European folk lore, the egg represented the sun, so it makes sense that you’d eat them when the sun comes up. The egg also represents life. But an egg consumed at lunch or dinner can still represent life and provide good protein, can’t it?
In the olden days, people consumed mass quantities of food for breakfast, which might have included many foods we now consider dinner foods. A large meal was needed to get them through a long day of very hard labor. Remember that these were the times when there were no tractors to plow the fields or harvest the corn. A wood fire had to be stoked early in the morning in order to cook, boil water for bathing or laundry, and keep the house warm. Breakfast was the largest meal of the day, and for good reason.
Lunch is often a meal on the go. The most typical lunch food seems to be a sandwich of some sort. It makes sense, as many of us have to take our lunches with us to work or school. Sandwiches travel easily. Most of us don’t have time to cook a meal at noon, when we’re most likely on a limited lunch hour. Just something to grab and get back to our busy lives.
Dinner is often the only time that we are home, and have time to cook and enjoy a meal without too many time constraints. We take time to prepare family favorites, and pack it in, shortly before going to bed. That doesn’t seem to make sense, does it? But it’s what we do. Are we storing up energy to sit on the sofa, and then go to sleep?
But we’ve all gone through those times in our lives when we ate just about anything, whenever we wanted to. I’m thinking the high school and college years, mostly. Leftover cold pizza for breakfast. Cake for breakfast. Eggs and bacon or cheeseburgers and fries at 2:30 in the morning, after a late night out. Pop for breakfast. Cereal for lunch. So why can’t we eat what we want, when we want to? Who says we have to eat shortly after we wake, mid-day, and shortly before we go to bed? Some recommend eating small amounts when we are truly hungry throughout the day, and not eating a large meal at dinner time. It’s all our mindset, cultural upbringing, and habit. So there’s really nothing stopping you from trying eggs for lunch, waffles for dinner, pizza for breakfast, or cereal for dessert.