The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Op-Egg: an attempt to exhaust a breakfast

(Tentative d'Épuisement d'un Petit-Déj)
by Georges Berecfast

Breakfast is a matter of proportion.

Any proportion can be expressed and analysed mathematically.

Take the four basic breakfast ingredients: egg, bacon, tomato1, sausage.

The first thing to notice is that they can be eaten in various combinations. The taste of each ingredient is enhanced by combination with another. This is one of the chief pleasures of breakfast. Some people prefer the taste of sausage with egg; others, bacon with tomato. Fewer will eat sausage with tomato, and almost none, tomato with egg or sausage with bacon. This can be expressed thus:

Interesting results can be gained from converting this into a Venn diagram showing the most popular combinations, which expresses a fascinating and pleasing circularity accounting, perhaps, for the continuing popularity of the four basic ingredients (please ignore the central shaded area on the diagram below, which we shall come back to later).

Each combination can be called a ‘fork’. While it is difficult to fit more than two ingredients on a ‘fork’, it is possible to vary the proportions of the ingredients as below.

While its exact permutations are endless, the possible combinations on the ‘fork’  are also to some extent dictated by the proportions of each ingredient available on the entire breakfast plate. The ideal combination of sausage/bacon/egg/tomato remains controversial. The ideal breakfast plate (I am using current ‘Wolseley Standard’ proportions for the sake of argument) can be expressed in the form of a pie chart.

(It is not recommended that you eat pies for breakfast, even if they are made from breakfast ingredients).

The ‘fork’, though informative and graphically pleasing, can only describe a single instance of the ingredients on the fork of one individual breakfaster. If you were to map a whole breakfast room or table in, say, a hotel, at home, or in a greasy spoon, it is necessary to change the instrument of analysis. The more sophisticated scatter graph (below) can show the ‘fork’ combinations of a number of breakfasters simultaneously. We can also use it to show the ‘forks’ of a number of individual breakfasters during the course of a breakfast, where * = Malcolm Eggs, + = Seggolene Royal, and § = Georges Berecfast. 

If we look more closely at the scatter graph above, we notice that the vertical axis is vegetarian (eggs, tomatoes), and the horizontal axis is meat (sausages, bacon): another pleasing evidence of the natural balance of standard breakfast ingredients.

Toast: the Missing Factor.
I haven’t so for included toast as a factor as it is a neutral, and can be combined with any one of the other ingredients, or with several at a time. Unlike the ‘fork’, the form of toast (unless it is very soggy) can support more than two ingredients, taking taste combinations to a new level, the logical conclusion of which is the ‘breakfast bap’.

If toast is to be included on either the Venn diagram or scattergraph, we would have to place it centrally and assume the possibility of its presence in any possible ‘fork’ . You will see this, expressed as the shaded area on my Venn and scatter graphs above. 

Tea or Coffee - the Continental/Analytic divide?
This question has been regarded as philosophically dead for some time. If you like Wittgenstein, drink tea: if you like Sartre, drink coffee.

A Word on Beans.
Some would criticise me for not including beans in my analysis. This is not a mistake. Beans are a problematic ingredient incompatible with the idea of the ‘fork’, unless the ’fork’ is used to spear a single or small number of beans, or alternatively used to scoop them up like a spoon. Either technique makes the combination of beans with other ingredients on the same ‘fork’ almost impossible, though this has been disputed in controversial research conducted recently by Malcolm Eggs. 

Also, I don’t like beans. 

These calculations were worked out on a napkin during breakfasts at Le Bal Cafe, and Le Petit Cardinal, Paris.

1 Tomato, for the purposes of our argument, stands for ‘tomato or mushrooms (but not beans: see ‘A word on beans’)’ ie the vegetable ingredient of the breakfast.


Anonymous Emmanuel Petit Déjeuner said...

Ah quel écriture magnifique! Mais le petit déjeuner est animé par l'amour; il est fortifié par l'espérance; il est augmenté par la joie; il est renouvelé par la crainte; il est accompagné de courage, d'émulation, de colère et de plusieurs autres passions qui forment à leur tour des jugements dans une variété infinie, lesquels se succèdent les uns aux autres et soutiennent ce désir qui les a fait naître.

Et moi aussi, je déteste les haricots.

12:39 PM, March 21, 2013  
Anonymous Georges Berecfast said...

Merci. Le petit déjeuner est également accompagné parfois de ketchup. Mais moi, je n'e l'aime pas de tout.

1:43 PM, March 21, 2013  
Anonymous Seggolène Royal said...

Tout petit-déjeuner agite le sang et les esprits. Les esprits agités sont conduits dans le cerveau par la vue pénible de l'objet ou par la force de l'imagination, d'une manière propre à former des traces profondes qui représentent cet objet.

Et moi non plus je n'aime pas les haricots, surtout pas au petit-déj.

2:14 PM, March 21, 2013  
Anonymous Emmanuel Petit Déjeuner said...

Pass the madeleines...

11:30 AM, March 22, 2013  
Anonymous Felix said...

I've approached this from a more C.S perspective here:

2:05 PM, March 22, 2013  
Anonymous Georges Berecfast said...

I like this, Felix. I've always thought the Full English presents many of the same problems as the (also British) Sunday Roast in terms of variables and proportions. Both are also difficult to prepare as, although each ingredient is easy to cook, the necessarily different preparation times and methods means that bringing everything to the table at the same time (on a warm plate) is a near-impossible feat for a single cook.

2:36 PM, March 22, 2013  

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