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October 24, 2008 at 4:15 PM

365 Breakfast Dishes — a la mode

Anyone who knows me well knows how I feel about breakfast: I’d rather wait till lunch. Forced to choose my favorite breakfast eats, I’m likely to say “leftover Chinese food.” And that’s only if I can’t get out to an Asian restaurant for a bowl of soup noodles. So, if I’m no fan of breakfast, why did I recently purchase this?

I bought it because the price was right ($15 at Half Price Books) and because I love vintage cookbooks. This one, published in 1901, is part of a series by George W. Jacobs & Co. of Philadelphia — something I learned post-purchase during a Google search. And am I dreaming, or does the guy on the cover look exactly like rotund French chef Auguste Gusteau from “Ratatouille”?

Old books have always afforded me a (relatively cheap) thrill, and here’s part of the reason why: they’ve got history. Stamped inside this one is the name “Mrs. Sherwood Gillespy” — complete with food stain. Plus, there are many handwritten notations by the missus herself, including the note “one receipt will serve eight.”

Paging through a book that someone else once owned always makes me wonder where it’s been. I mean, who was Mrs. Sherwood Gillespy? Was she the book’s original owner? Is she dead or alive? How did she feel about being referred to by her husband’s full name? Did she have a happy marriage? Which reminds me: I once found the most astonishing kiss-off letter tucked into a used book. I read it, spellbound, and could envision myself crying along with the woman who received it, sobbing, “Forget him! He’s a jerk and he didn’t deserve you!” There was nothing quite that juicy in “365 Breakfast Dishes.” If you don’t count Mrs. G’s note from the April 22 recipe for ham croquettes, reminding her to “add 2 tablespoons onion juice”:

When it comes to ideas for a morning repast, “365 Breakfast Dishes” is most definitely my idea of a cookbook. It offers a year’s worth of day-by-day suggestions and “receipts” starting on January 1 with “Pork Chops, Sauce Robert,” and includes everything from broiled pigs’ feet (March 3), to fried frogs’ legs (July 27) to scalloped lobster (June 30) to that heart-warming breakfast of champions, “Valentine Toast” (February 14), suggesting a meal of calves liver cut with a heart-shaped cookie cutter:

By the way: You know how the word “heart” is associated with romance here in the West? In Iran, the word for sweetheart is “jeegar.” Translation: liver. And if you’ve got a jeegar who’s also got a sweet tooth (I’ve got two: my husband and my son), perhaps you should consider taking them out for Sunday breakfast at Molly Moon’s Homemade Ice Cream shop in Wallingford:

Beginning this weekend Molly Moon Neitzel is serving up a Sunday breakfast of warm Washington-grown oatmeal with your choice of dried sour cherries, fresh berries, candied ginger, spiced honey and other toppers — plus a scoop of housemade ice cream ($6). Come and get it: Sundays only from 9 a.m. till 2 p.m.

OK, now give me the scoop. What’s your favorite breakfast food?

Comments | More in | Topics: Reading about eating

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