Stay for breakfast

Breakfast is – or at least should be – the most important meal of the day. But what makes a good start into the day? IRMA spoke with Simone Hawlisch, the Berlin-based food, lifestyle and travel photographer whose Instagram profile (@fraeuleinsonntag) is an ode to slow living. Her latest book, “Stay for Breakfast” (Gestalten), provides an enticing glimpse at what breakfast looks like on plates around the world and gives plenty of inspiration for new breakfast recipes.

IRMA: The first meal of the day – what come to your mind immediately?

SIMONE HAWLISCH: Oh, that is hard to say as it pretty much depends on my working schedule. When you work freelance as a photographer as I do, each day can look very different. My dream breakfast is a cup of good coffee and some homemade sourdough bread with just butter or a bit of marmalade.

IRMA: The aesthetics of your pictures remind me of still life paintings from Spanish painter Luis Maléndez. Perfect when you just woke up and open your eyes. How important is light and the presentation of food especially in the morning hours?

SIMONE HAWLISCH: Thank you, IRMA. Some people already told me that my work reminds them of the paintings of artists such as Luis Maléndez or Johannes Vermeer, a Dutch painter. I have never seen it this way or studied their work in particular. Natural light in general is very important for my work and I love the blue hour also known as twilight which can be either just before sunrise or after dawn. I can also work in a studio with studio and artificial light. However, I think food looks so much better when captured in a natural light setting.

IRMA: Hosting a breakfast can be tricky as some people are not really morning persons. How can you create a cheerful, yet balanced and comfortable situation?

SIMONE HAWLISCH: I think it is important to know your guests and their preferences and sometimes you have to find a little compromise to find a time in the morning that works for everybody or to offer the right food and the favourite dishes of the people you have invited for breakfast as this can serve as a great enticement to get them all excited about getting up for breakfast. Some nice relaxing music helps too to start the day in a relaxed manner.

IRMA: Some people say a good breakfast will not make me hungry until dinner time. What is the key for the right ingredients?

SIMONE HAWLISCH: Right now carbs seem to have a really bad reputation, but personally I think that carbs will help you to stay focused and get you through the day. Whenever I know I have a long day ahead of me, I usually start it with porridge or sourdough bread, which I top up with roasted almonds and a grated apple. That keeps me going till the early afternoon. I think it is important to look for good ingredients and not to “overeat” as this can make you tired.

IRMA: Asians prefer a salty breakfast and put an emphasis on rich protein food, while westerners prefer a sweeter alternative. What are the pros and cons in your opinion?

SIMONE HAWLISCH: I think this is really hard to say and has a lot to do with personal preferences and how we have been brought up. It also can be different for medical reason, so for example Asians often cannot digest milk products very well due to a missing enzyme. Trying out different breakfast dishes in different cultures I always find  inspiring as it helps us to determine what our very own personal preferences are. This is also why I suggested to include a miso soup for breakfast. I do like it a lot and in particular when my body feels a little cold or fragile this is the perfect dish to start the day.

IRMA: When you are traveling a lot, which is your favorite breakfast to go that gives you all the energy and does not force you to eat in-between other travelers for example when sitting in a plane 🙂

SIMONE HAWLISCH: This really depends on the availability of my breakfast favourites when I travel. So for example in Italy breakfast usually consists of an espresso which is called “caffè” with a biscuit or cornetto. So this would be too much for me and I would rather opt for some fruit. Fruit is also a favourite breakfast of mine when I am traveling by plane. I always make sure to have a breakfast apple or some dried fruit, which will get me to the first hours of the new day and to my next destination.