I have to say that H1N1 (I refuse to refer to it by its more colloquial name) is not one of my favourite pandemics. It just doesn’t have the same ring to it as the Plague of Justinian, and I certainly don’t see it becoming as creatively inspiring as say cholera or the Hong Kong flu. So what can we learn from H1N1? Is it that international travel is a bad idea? Ridiculous. Is it that our global community is simply weaker now due to poor financial and environmental conditions? I doubt it: my garden produced an excellent harvest this year, and my bank book is as strong as ever so it can’t be that. Are we just looking for another reason to quarantine Irish cooks?
The simple lesson that lies behind the whole H1N1 debacle is that people should eat breakfast. My grandmother Boots had a little saying that went something along the lines of “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.” I only wish she had shared that truism with people outside our family. I, for one, start every day with a slice of toast, half a grapefruit and a cup of tea. It provides me with energy to work, to play, to effectively and eloquently communicate and to ward off pesky infectious diseases.
Sadly, breakfast is being completely ignored by most of our population and if it is eaten, too often it is only at the weekend. In America, diners load up on pancakes, waffles, bacon, sausage patties, sausage links, steak, fried potatoes, hash browns, toast, eggs, omelets, frittatas, gravy, syrup, French toast, bagels, grits, quiche, cereal, oatmeal, fruit, crepes, and orange juice. What’s wrong with that you say? Nothing except that it’s only eaten on Sunday mornings. Americans need breakfasts like that everyday to stay flu-fighting fit.
Of course, English tastes are slightly more refined, and they tend to nibble on bacon, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms, baked beans, toast, scones, porridge, eggs and cigarettes. Again, save for the unemployed and old-aged pensioners, these important food groups are only taken at the weekends. We are just asking for trouble by ignoring this meal.
People, come on. The word breakfast actually means “break fast.” If we want to break H1N1 fast, there’s a simple way to do that. When you wake up tomorrow, don’t rush out the door before putting some food in your belly. If you do and you get sick, you’ll have no one to blame except yourself. And the Mexicans.