P’tit déj

Breakfast has always been my favourite meal.

Le petit déjeuner, often shortened in spoken French to ‘le petit déj’ or just ‘p’tit déj’ has a lot to love. First of all, it is is eaten as soon as you wake up (at least for me). No waiting, no socializing. Also, you please yourself. That means you decide what, when and where you have breakfast.

As someone who reads a lot, I figured out early on that one of life’s great pleasures was eating breakfast while reading. Not the stuffy old newspaper that my dad used to hide behind for hours over the breakfast table, but whatever book currently had me in its grip.

From there I soon decided to shift the whole operation back to bed.

At first breakfast in bed was just on weekends. Then I figured: life is short. Why not enjoy your favourite thing every day? So for most of my adult life, and with a few rare exceptions like travelling and having guests over, my p’tit déj is served each morning, by moi, in bed. No matter how early.

Now to the main event: the food. The typical French breakfast, the one we always called ‘continental’ traditionally consists of a bowl of café au lait, a fresh baguette sliced in half and spread with butter and jam. Add in a glass of orange juice and maybe a yoghurt, and you get what the French call ‘petit déjeuner complet’. The first time I saw this menu description in a hotel, I was outraged. ‘Complet’? Basically it was the above, but with croissants as well as bread. How could you call that complete? Where were the bacon and eggs? The toast and cereal? The fresh fruit?

The bacon and eggs belong to the full English, bien évidemment. And the French reserve hot meals for midday and evening. Breakfast is mostly a cold affair, despite the enticing warm fragrance of freshly baked ‘viennoiseries’ (general name for croissants and other delicious pastries like pain au chocolat or pain aux raisins).

When it comes to my own choice of breakfast menu, I try to follow the old adage for healthy eating: “Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.” Unfortunately I usually only get the first two right, and my weight reflects this.

My p'tit déj

Still, I get a few things right. Balance, for one thing. Most days I have oatmeal or muesli with unsweetened yogurt, nuts and dried fruit. On alternate days I have toast with cheese, an egg or peanut butter. If eating toast, I try to get my favourite bakery loaf: rye with walnuts or raisins.

A few years ago, I switched from juice to fresh fruit for breakfast, one of the best changes I’ve ever made in terms of glycemic index. It’s the only time of day I really enjoy fruit so I try to sneak in at least a couple of servings: kiwis, bananas, citrus, and berries if in season.

Last fall I had some stomach trouble and went off coffee for a while, which led to a change in my normal morning routine. Now for breakfast I have a pot of black tea, full-leaf Darjeeling s’il vous plaît. But I’m back on coffee and so by mid-morning I’ll have a large latté with two shots of espresso!

And because we live in France, and the bakery is just two minutes away, I’ll have croissants on the weekend. With jam, merci. On a tray.

What did you have for breakfast?

Photo by Sergio Arze on Unsplash

41 comments

  1. Darlene · February 6

    I love breakfast, too! During the week, it’s coffee with cream and a banana. But on weekends, I like pancakes with sausage and hash browns. I love croissants, too!

    • MELewis · February 6

      Your weekday breakfast sounds a bit light to me, although the banana probably has staying power…but you sure make up for it on the weekends! 😊

  2. margaret21 · February 6

    Well, not breakfast in bed, for sure. It’s my very least favourite thing, and barely to be endured when Ill. Those crumbs! That awkward thing of where to put the plate or bowl! In the kitchen, showered and fully dressed is my best way to face the day. Fruit, cereal or toast. Fresh coffee. Done.

    • MELewis · February 6

      Ha, ha…I have mastered the art of keeping the bed crumb-free: a good brush and lots of fresh sheets! But your way is definitely more civilized.

      • margaret21 · February 7

        … though probably less fun.

  3. francetaste · February 6

    That top photo reminds me of my first trips to France, staying in hotels and getting the breakfast. What got me was the way the coffee tasted different with the warmed milk (this was eons before the advent of Starbucks and lattes everywhere). The coffee would be served in its own pitcher, and milk in a separate one. Plus fresh-squeezed orange juice (like you, I quit drinking my fruit in favor of chewing it, but oh, OJ is yummy). The baguette with good butter (a wonder to someone who knew only margarine), and a croissant. YUM.
    I just learned that viennoiseries are bread-based or flaky baked goods, to distinguish them from pâtisserie, or cakes. I also only recently learned that straight croissants are made with butter and croissants whose ends are turned in are made with margarine. Our new village boulangerie makes such good croissants that everybody is despairing that we will all gain weight. The “normal” croissants are excellent but the “real” butter croissants are an out-of-this-world experience.

    • MELewis · February 6

      Your bakery sounds deviously delicious. Almost criminal to make croissants that good! 👨🏻‍🍳

  4. midihideaways · February 6

    Breakfast in bed sounds so cozy, but I always fear that I’ll get crumbs all over, or worse, tip over the tray!! 🙂 For the moment it’s fruit for breakfast – always a mixture of at least three or four: kiwis, apples, bananas, oranges or mandarins etc…

    • MELewis · February 6

      Oh, yes…fear of crumbs is a common concern but I am vigilant about keeping my bedding clean! Touch wood, I’ve only knocked over a cup of coffee from the night table once. 😅 Your fruit-based breaktast sounds very sensible!

  5. phildange · February 6

    A man’s one : black coffees and cigarettes
    You’re talking to me ? 👿

    • MELewis · February 6

      Lol, not even Deniro can be that tough! Even when I smoked, I could not stomach a ciggy before breakfast. But the first one of the day right after was the best! Still not enough to make me take up the evil weed again though…

  6. acflory · February 6

    Your breakfast made my mouth water, but only because it’s time for supper! Can’t eat first thing in the morning. Nothing but coffee, white with the barest hint of sugar. Mid morning I’ll have either Morello cherries with plain yoghurt or a bowl of porridge with Dutch cinnamon and a whole teaspoon of sugar. I’m wicked like that. 😀

    • MELewis · February 6

      I’ve always been fascinated by people who can’t eat first thing. I suppose the coffee warms up your appetite for that mid-morning snack? The important thing is to enjoy what you eat, so no judgements on the sweet stuff!

      • acflory · February 7

        I think the coffee probably stops me from getting hungry for longer, but yes, by mid-morning I’m well and truly ready for some food. 😀

  7. paul · February 6

    My wife has had breakfast in bed every day for 35 years thanks to me. Thursdays is a boiled egg with a toasted crumpet and if the egg is a bit harder than usual I get a complaint. I try my best and lately have been doing very well with Alexa’s help. I just shout “Alexa 3 minute timer” and she tells me when it’s ready and off goes the alarm. I even got a “Good egg!” this morning

    • MELewis · February 6

      She is a lucky lady! My hubs used to bring me a coffee from time to time, but those days are long gone. *Sigh*.

  8. Michele · February 6

    My fav meal too ! In bed a lot but not always , moving slower in the morning so my husband brings it in for me ! Always mint tea, Greek yogurt, oatmeal, fresh berries ! Totally agree on a meditative start with some quiet reading . This morning it’s you….
    Bravo !

  9. Liz · February 6

    Reading your post reminded me that I used to love my breakfasts! But that was before I had to give up gluten and dairy. Now breakfast feels like a chore. So I regularly search for recipes that will bring me back to love breakfast again.
    Unfortunately, I am still looking! 😒
    On a happy note, Ken brings a nice cup of tea for me to enjoy in bed when I wake up. A small luxury.
    😊

    • MELewis · February 7

      That is so sad! Can’t you still have GF toast and eggs? They’re not dairy, right? Tea served in bed sounds very nice. Unfortunately around here I am always the first one up. 😢

      • Liz · February 8

        Yes… I can do gf toast and eggs. It just doesn’t usually appeal to me in the morning.
        Appetite is a funny thing sometimes.
        XO

  10. paul · February 6

    I forgot to add the boiled egg and crumpet is always accompanied by a percolated coffee Never the
    dry powdered sort however expensive they are or their claim of tasting just like real coffee! But speaking of French breakfasts, I would agree they are quite memorable, even just for the coffee and croissant. I can recall the taste as far back as my very first journey to France around 1966. Seemingly, always the best in the railway station cafe. Some years ago, when the children were small we drove to Spain and took the motor rail part of the way, to Narbonne. I don’t think they do motor rail anymore but there were no refreshments on the train but the price included breakfast at the interchange at the railway station in Paris and we were taken to a big dining hall where they brought in piles of fresh hot croissants with jam and cheese and flasks of steaming coffee and the smell and taste was superb. It is something that always stays in my mind as far as breakfasts go anywhere.

    • MELewis · February 6

      What a memory! I think coffee is the best smell ever. And fresh warm croissants is a close second.

  11. Mary Katherine · February 6

    I do intermittent fasting, which for means I’ve given up daily breakfast and don’t eat until early afternoon, except sometimes on weekends or when travelling. But my DREAM breakfast would be fresh croissants (2, please) with strawberry jam and good salted butter. It is the fashion in the US at the moment to serve unsalted butter sur la table. I would as soon spread Crisco on bread – ugh! I go out with the family after church on Sunday, which is often a big American breakfast at Cracker Barrel with pancakes, eggs, crispy bacon and biscuits – bliss!

    • MELewis · February 6

      That breakfast sounds amazing! As for unsalted butter, it is a trend I can also live without. Unless the bread is warm sourdough or salty itself…in which case lovely butter will always be nice. Personally I like beurre demi-sel, which is half way between. Kudos to you for the fasting — you are a braver woman than I!

  12. Dale · February 6

    Breakfast is definitely a fabulous part of the day. For me, it varies. Fruit on Greek yogurt with a handful of muesli, or, if I had a couple cups of coffee and realize I still haven’t eaten in hours – which I can do now but could not before – I make a breakfast wrap of lettuce, 1/2 avocado, handful of grape tomatoes and a fried egg… I swear, I could eat this every day.

    • MELewis · February 7

      Ah, eggs and avocado are a wonderful match and will keep me going all day! You are so full of energy, Dale, I think it must serve you well.😎

      • Dale · February 7

        Match made in heaven! I do and it does! 😉

  13. Yeah, Another Blogger · February 6

    I don’t often see writers writing about their glucose level/index. It’s something I also did recently, somewhat to my surprise.

    Coffee is a must for me in the morning. I’ll often have an ounce or two of fruit juice to which I add seltzer. Not much sugar that way. A cheese and tomato sandwich is often part of breakfast, and maybe a few slices of pear. Enjoy the day!

    Neil Scheinin

    • MELewis · February 7

      Ha, ha, I try to balance out certain excesses more in keeping with the writer with healthy habits. Maybe one reason I love my brekkie is because I don’t have to decide whether or not to have wine — that’s a no (unless champagne during the holidays…) Glad to hear that coffee gets you going, Neil. I also cut juice with sparkling — not only does it reduce the sugar, any kind of spritzer is a treat!

  14. kairosia · February 6

    I love reading about everyone’s petit déjeuner. I wonder if others’ routines, like mine, are habitual down to the preferred pottery and utensils. I start with a medium blend coffee in a large mug—with steamed, foamed nonfat milk, a touch of stevia to sweeten, and a drop of vanilla. This I’ll take in the living room in front of the fireplace, where my husband and I divvy up the newspaper and kvetch about the news over coffee during the cold months. I never refuse good buttery croissants or scones, if they can be had. The routine shifts outdoors to the accompaniment of birdsong in the summer, on our back deck. A couple of hours later I’m ready for more substance: shredded wheat and bran, blueberries, dried cranberries, and chopped walnuts, again with nonfat milk. All this tides me over until well into the afternoon, where my lunch, if any, is far more pauperish than it ought to be. When I’m in France, this routine is reconfigured to tartine, croissant, or pain aux raisins with a large café crème for p’tit déj—and out for lunch!

    • MELewis · February 7

      This sounds like an excellent plan! I could basically graze on breakfast all day and then head straight into dinner, but in France, lunch is pretty well sacrosanct. When in Rome, eh? Like you, I love the ritual around serving meals with things I love — a coffee glass, for instance, into which my steamed skim milk also marries perfectly with espresso! Thanks for sharing your morning routine, sounds heavenly!

  15. phildange · February 6

    Now when the long list of delicacies has slowed down I wanted to remind you that, like during every revolution, Nazi occupation or struggles about religion, there always has been two Frances . In the interesting half, aka the southern half, people don’t call breakfast “petit déjeuner” but just “déjeuner” . Lunch is no more “déjeuner” but “dîner”, and dinner is not “dîner” but “souper” . That was the terminology i everywhere heard and used when I was a kid . The first time I heard Parisian tourists call lunch “déjeuner” I understood they were snobbish false French, shabbily copying Alien Barbarians .
    Later I learnt that in all nice tribes, such as in Belgium for instance, people said this in the right way . You see, the worthy France is where people call a “pain au chocolat” (ha ha !) correctly, i.e. : “une chocolatine” .

    • MELewis · February 7

      I’m with you on everything but the ‘chocolatine’. It just doesn’t ring right to my Paris-educated ear! But if it’s any consolation, we also had this divide in language in Canada. Lunch was dinner for some (often more of a working class meal) and dinner for us was supper. Your comment made me think: but we can’t call it anything but ‘breakfast’ as we are breaking our fast after the night’s sleep. And then I realized that it makes perfect sense to say ‘déjeuner’ for breakfast as in French it’s the same etymology: déjeuner. The opposite of ‘jeuner’, right? 🙌

  16. phildange · February 7

    You are right about this, and also about the working class more using déjeuner, dîner and souper . Hence this “snobbish” impression I had as a kid .

  17. Ally Bean · February 7

    Oh my goodness I’m hungry after reading this post. I haven’t had a freshly baked croissant in years. I usually have a handful of almonds, a piece of fruit, and if I have the time, some Cheerios for breakfast. With lots of black coffee. I’m so midwestern American, aren’t I?

    • MELewis · February 10

      I do remember that mid-westerners always drink their coffee black, so yes! 🙂 You should definitely treat yourself to a croissant or other breakfast treat of your choice now and then, although the almonds and fruit sound pretty healthy!

  18. Joanne Sisco · February 8

    There is no question that one of my favourite things about France is the baguette / croissant. It is incomparable. Although I have many vices, bread isn’t one of them … except in France. Maybe it’s a good thing I don’t live there 😉

    I too like to read in the morning over coffee and breakfast – although it’s normally blog posts, like right now – as I indulge in my typical breakfast of yogurt, fruit, and some muesli.

    • MELewis · February 10

      Amazing how our collective habits change without seeming to have been influenced in an obvious way. Judging form the comments, many of us now eat yogurt, fruit and muesli for breakfast — how did that happen? 🧐 I wish I didn’t enjoy bread and other carbs quite so much, but at least I can indulge in quality offerings. And reading blogs over breakfast sounds like a great way to start the day!

      • Joanne Sisco · February 15

        I’ve always had issues with breakfast food. Fruit and yogurt is the best solution I can come up with … well, except for the occasional bowl of ice cream, but that’s usually reserved for Friday mornings as a challenging week comes to an end 😉

  19. Dennis · February 12

    French breakfast is the best. I’ve been to France a few times in my life (Argeles sur Mer, c’est pres de Pyrénées)…. but that was a long time ago. Anyway, I enjoyed France and French food!

    • MELewis · February 17

      I think they do breakfast pretty well the same everywhere in France! But it’s only one of many meals to enjoy. Hope you are able to make it back to enjoy some French food again one day!

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