When I walked to the Bulletin office every day, I used to see Mallorcans having this breakfast at terrace cafés in the centre of town and also in many side streets.
It was a simple one and consisted of a glass of fresh orange juice, toast, and a café con leche. The toast was sliced bread or rolls, served either with butter and jam, or drizzled with olive oil and spread with finely chopped tomatoes.
Nutritionist and dietician Concepción Martínez told the newspaper El Español that Spaniards don’t breakfast ‘correctly’ and she was very much against fresh orange juice.
This popular breakfast drink didn’t get a pass mark because it contains none of the fruit’s fibre and its sugar count makes it not much better than a sugary soft drink.
Nutritionists say that fruit juices without the fibre contain more fructose (a simple sugar) which produces biochemical effects that cause inflammation. This reaction starts off triglycerides which can later lead to a fatty liver that needs medical treatment.
The toast also came under attack. Most white sliced bread nowadays is made with highly refined flour, so it has a high glycemic index, which can mean an increase of glucose in the blood — and that is always bad news.
In the worst scenario it can lead to diabetes-2 and medical treatment, but if the glucose count isn’t too high the doctor will put you on a diet of foods with a low glycemic index and that could be enough to keep the glucose count under control.
It’s true that fresh orange juice is lacking the fibre you get from the fruit, but to say its sugar content puts it into the same list as a sugary soft drink is simply ridiculous.
If asked my opinion, I would always tell friends they would be better having a fresh orange as part of their breakfast, and another as a mid-morning snack.
But I would never suggest that the juice from two fresh oranges is not a ‘correct’ way to breakfast. It is a good start to the day, and so are the juices of other fresh fruits, citric or not.
But whenever you can, have the fruit instead of the freshly pressed juice. And if for some reason you must have the juice, then eat the pulp that remains stuck to the pith. You can also scrape off the pulp and stir it into the juice. In either case, even the most punctilious of nutritionists would have no complaints.
Ms Martínez was right in condemning the eating of ‘bollería’ in a Spanish breakfast. This word takes in a wide range of doughnuts and other sweet pastries made with white flour and packed with sugar and calories. Far too many Spanish children (and adults) are hooked on them.
She also has some harsh words for wrapped sliced bread. I think it should be avoided at all times. Its nutritional value is rock bottom, mainly because it’s made with the worst kind of flour — one with all the goodness ground out of it.
I have always bought my bread from small bakeries or those supermarkets, such as El Corte Inglés, that have a large selection of freshly baked loaves. Part of the fun is trying those that take your fancy instead of always buying the same two or three favourites.
In my Scottish-Italian home, we used a traditional Italian bread that was very like Mallorca’s country loaf known as ‘pa pàges’, the large one that’s used for an authentic ‘pa amb oli’.
This Italian loaf was delivered to our door twice a week and I never did find out where it actually came from, although in those days there were a couple of Italian grocery shops in central Glasgow that sold it.
In Mallorca you’ll find the ‘pa pagès’ in every bakery (panadería) and if you ask for it in Spanish (‘un pan moreno mallorquín, por favor’) you’ll have no difficulty getting one.
They are usually on display, so you can point to the one you want. A one-kilo size is ideal for most households, but if you want large slices for an authentic ‘pa amb oli’ you can get the two-kilo loaf.
In some bakeries you may have to order this one the day before. The ‘pan moreno’ has a long shelf life and it actually has a better texture when it is a day or two old. That’s when it’s best of all for a ‘pa amb oli’.
It’s only in the past 40 years or so that Mallorcans have started to taking an interest in getting the day off to a good start by eating a proper breakfast.
In the old days (about 60 years ago and before) most islanders left home in the morning having breakfasted on little more than a cup of coffee and, at most, a couple of ‘galletas María’, a Spanish tea biscuit.
Many of these workers had something to eat around 11am. It could be a substantial sandwich, often a biggish roll with a tomato and cheese or ham filling. And usually a glass of red wine.
That midmorning snack is called a ‘merienda’ in Spanish and a ‘berenar’ in Mallorquín. For some people a ‘berenar’ is something on a plate, sometimes a ‘frito mallorquín’, a smallish dish of ‘callos’ (tripe), a couple of fried eggs with red or green peppers, or similar local dishes that are sometimes on a tapas counter.
You’ll get your day off to a brilliant start if you breakfast on sugar-free cereals (porridge, for instance), eggs (fried, scrambled or in an omelette), toast (using brown bread, especially if it contains seeds) and fresh fruit (go for oranges, bananas, apples or pears) and if you can work in some yoghurt, kefir or skyr then you’ll get top marks from nutritionists and all other members of the medical profession.
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The only proper healthy breakfast is a full English smothered in brown sauce. With a boddingtons of course.
I’d be more worried about the Two beers and hierbas that accompany many breakfasts here than orange juice.
As a Diabetic "SUGAR" is my enemy. I have to search and check all foods for NO SUGAR. It is very difficult when e.g. SUGAR is in nearly every food like gravy etc. Then there is the natural sucrose in fruit etc. It is not easy at all.
Then that good lady is free not to have to eat and drink a Spanish style breakfast Of orange juice, ham cheese and tomato on good quality bread. But after reading the article I will continue to do so Why Because it tastes good. And I don’t do 600 euros worth of beer for my starter for the day.