02 March, 2015

Dark Breakfast

One of my favourite posts over at the Duke of N's boudoir occurred recently ("Breakfast Tea"), in which our erstwhile correspondent showed us his breakfast.  As I mulled over "aged mushroom broth" and other delicacies, I reflected on the fact that it is not by a man's works that we shall know him, but by his breakfast.

One's breakfast speaks volumes.  It is intimate, personal, and absolutely honest.  When the excrement hits the fan, which is the single meal of the day that you just have to get right?  When travelling?  When wanted by the government for crimes that you didn't commit, escaped as a soldier of fortune to the Los Angeles underground?  Of course, that meal is breakfast.

It is the ultimate insight into a man's soul.

I then went on to consider my own breakfast: I have a notion that I have come to call (in the privacy of my own head) by a unique name that sums it all up:


Now, some breakfasts are just breakfasts.  They are functional; they are getting us where we need to be.  Most breakfasts fit this description.  However, a DARK BREAKFAST is something else: a DARK BREAKFAST is a breakfast that is so powerful, so cosmically significant, that it warps the very fabric of the remainder of your day.  It sends ripples forwards and backwards in time, rearranging meetings, changing schedules, manipulating the very nature of reality itself.


The DARK BREAKFAST has no aged mushroom broth. It has no fresh green tea served in the local style. Rather, it is something darker, more fundamental, more cosmically terrifying. It changes minds, lives, souls.

The tea on offer here is not delicate; rather, the tea suitable for the DARK BREAKFAST is overbrewed, potent, and extremely evil. It has all the charm of antifreeze.

My college is particularly well-suited to the DARK BREAKFAST. Settings are placed four chairs apart, to give we, the humble supplicants of the DARK BREAKFAST, suitable room to spread out our liturgy / broadsheet newspapers / daemonic scrolls.

Quietly, the DARK BREAKFAST works its magic. Timetables subtly begin to rearrange; meetings begin to become more fluid concepts than their absolute presence in one's diary might otherwise suggest; priorities and deadlines themselves begin to shift. Truly, the DARK BREAKFAST is a rarified and incomprehensible ritual.

Happily, college also has a chapel to relieve one's soul of the burdens of the DARK BREAKFAST...

I invite you, Gentle Reader, to share with us your own morning ritual.  You never know, you may also be a partaker in a DARK BREAKFAST.

caught behind
the Chinese elders -
slow breakfast

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, as the Overlook Hotel likes to remind us. I set aside time at the week-end to park my rather tired carcass at the teatable, reaching for the velvet-lined container that contains ritual samples sent direct from that archpriest of darkness, w2t.

Like some other teas from Dubs, this is named after a (presumably classic) album from bygone years. My visiting mother appears to know "54-46 That's My Number", which is, according to Google, by Hoots and the Maytals, and which lends its name to this tea.

At $175/200g, this is not inexpensive - but that's fine.  If anything, it actually helps me to relax and drink the tea without being too concerned about whether or not I will be buying it.  We are so far beyond ambiguous purchase territory that we can just drink the tea.  I appreciate the freedom.

Behold the bold soldier: this is a big ol' "gushu" tea in the real style.  "Very nice; where does it come from, Brain?" I ask myself.

My closed fist (figuratively) slams into my own face as I check the Dubs web-page for this tea, to find that it comes from "hush-hush origins".  C'est la vie - another anonymous tea.

This tea is, in a very real sense, "guns of Navarone tearing up your battlezone".  Broad, smooth, punchy, fresh, zesty - and curiously familiar.  That familiarity lingers in my mind, tickling my sensitivities, reminding me of something forgotten, something beyond memory.

The risks associated with buying new tea are non-trivial.  Who knows how it'll end up?  I really appreciate the opportunity to try this sample, however hush-hush its origins (ahem), as it reminds me exactly why I like pu'ercha.  If you like straightforward, potent, sweet-straw broadness with hints of warm breadiness (Mengsong? is that you?), at least a sample of "54-46" could make you as happy as made made me.

It certainly cuts the karmic knot formed from that morning's DARK BREAKFAST, at the least...

Notes added to the 2005 Mengyang Guoyan "Laobanzhang" - this has come on very nicely in six years.


Hobbes said...

The haiku in this article was written over the breakfast table, in my favourite hotel in Beijing. You need to get up really very early to beat the Chinese Elders, a.k.a. the roadblock preventing everyone under the age of 65 from eating any time soon.

Incidentally, I have never grown accustomed to Chinese breakfasts. They just seem unholy to me. Breakfast is a true classifier of souls.



James Thirlwall said...

A contender for dark breakfast status must be the breakfast that was never destined to be breakfast.

I am partial to a Chinese breakfast that was once a Chinese dinner or a slice of cold, stuck to the cardboard box Italian breakfast, wood-fired from dinner the night before.

Mind altering and sustaining for one whose soul has recently been rinsed and hung to dry from exuberance.


Hobbes said...

Dear Marios,

Never underestimate the power of a Lazarus Breakfast, resurrected from aeons past to feed the constitution of a recovering soul!



hster said...

Dear Hobbes,

Is DARK BREAKFAST even possible without black pudding? Also no Marmite nor butter for bread?

You can depend on me anytime to scrutinize your breakfast. You have placed the jam jar (Marmalade?) such that I cannot satisfy my curiosity. Still I'd be happy to start with such hearty porky fare any day of the week.


Hobbes said...

You are, of course, entirely correct. It seems we get black pudd but once in a blue moon, and I'm not sure why - it is ubiquitously popular!

(Marmite is a bit salty for the modern tastebud, I think, hearty though it definitely is!)

I can only imagine the Korean equivalent...



squareinchworld said...

What is the name and address of your favorite hootel in Beijing?

Hobbes said...

Dear Squareinch,

I rather like the Park Plaza "Science Park" hotel, on Zhichunlu. It is neither flashy nor ostentatious, but it offers the following awesomeness:

(i) Excellent cleanliness;

(ii) Excellent links to the main metro network (just 2 minutes away by foot);

(iii) Excellent location (you can get to most universities in the main district easily);

(iv) Excellent value-for-money (especially relative to some hotels in the university district);

(v) Excellent access to my primary collaborators, who are literally next door (in the Peking University Health Sciences Centre);

(vi) In keeping with the article, an excellent breakfast - while unholy Chinese breakfast is on offer, you can also get a real breakfast of quality.