Foucault discusses breakfast

From Michel Foucault’s masterwork, Bacon & Eggs:

The ease with which these foods [bacon and eggs] are prepared, combined with their atemporal deliciousness (they are good to eat at any time, really), ensures that they are often prepared in the morning when one is groggy, uncoordinated, and above all, hungry.  This has given rise to the discursively formed notion that they are, always have been, and always will be “breakfast foods”.  But this is of course untenable in the long run; breakfast — or what I have renamed “the breakfast-function” — is only a signifier that floats partially, its signifieds (in this case, bacon and eggs) being constantly and perpetually malleable.  How often do we have pancakes for dinner, or perhaps an omelete for lunch?

The existence of breakfast, and in fact of any other meal, is far from immutable.  We can easily imagine a culture where the discourse of mealtime has been done away with altogether, and we are free to eat all delicious foods, whatever their status, form, caloric content and regardless of whether or not they are really sandwiches or maybe roasts or casseroles, without the need of an arbitrary label based on the time of day we are dining.  When someone decries that he or she is hungry, no longer will we have these tiresome exchanges:

“I am really in the mood for an Egg McMuffin.”

“Dude it’s like three in the afternoon, McDonald’s stops serving breakfast at like 10:30 or 11.”

“But I really want a McMuffin.”

“Then wait until tomorrow.  Right now if you wanna go eat we’ll have to hit up like Subway or something.”

“What about Wendy’s?”

“The only good thing at Wendy’s is the Frosties and you know that and I only eat ice cream after dinner.”

“Fuck it, I’ll microwave some pizza rolls.”

Instead, in this new world, we would need only one sentence to spell out all our possibilities:

“Hey, let’s go to Denny’s.”


Excerpt uncovered with the help of noted Foucault scholar Jeremy Miller.

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