The morning routine here begins at 6 with the first espresso moves on pretty quickly to those who want breakfast and by 8 it’s just me and the washing up.
And because I am soft for as long as I can remember it has been breakfast in bed, and yes even in this age of central heating and the internet there are hot water bottles before bedtime.
We take for granted that breakfast was and still is for many something you have at home but this has not always been the case. Throughout history people and it does tend to be the poor have eaten out, often from fast food vendors and not I suspect always out of choice.
The extent to which people ate on the move is revealed in The Victorian City, Everyday Life in Dickens’ London by Judith Flanders*
I got it for Christmas and it perfectly complements my own interest in the Chorlton of the first half of the 19th century. We were a small rural community with strong links to Manchester and so her book is a good contrast to our own life here in the countryside and by extension an introduction to what was going on just 4½ miles away in the big city.
So while today eating out can be expensive and a life choice, back in the early 19th century it was pretty much of a necessity. Most of the working class lived in rooms not houses with just a fire place for rudimentary cooking extending to boiling a kettle or a pot of something, and anyway lighting a fire was a costly affair which would then continue to burn long after everyone had left for work. Likewise water was not always readily available and might only be available from a street pump and then not all the time.
Some stalls were just simply a board laid over a pair of sawhorses and a can of coffee kept warm by a charcoal burner and others elaborate tent like structures. A cup of coffee and “two thin” – two pieces of bread and butter might cost half a penny.
And there is much more but then having become an author I am outrageously in favour of people buying the book so I shall say no more other than it is a fascinating read.
*Flanders, Judith, The Victorian City Everyday Life in Dickens’ London, Atlantic Books, 2012
Picture; Hot food on sale on the streets, the pictures date from the 1890s which takes them a little out of the time frame of the book, The Infirmary Corner at the top of Market Street, The Rovers Return, Shudehill, and Angel Meadow, by H.E. Tidmarsh from the book Manchester Old & New , Arthur William Shaw 1894