The London Review of Breakfasts

"Dedalus, come down, like a good mosey. Breakfast is ready. Haines is apologising for waking us last night. It's all right." (Buck Mulligan)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Hog Island, San Francisco, USA

Hog Island
Ferry Building Marketplace
One Ferry Building
San Francisco, CA 94111
+1 (415) 983 8000

by Des Ayuno

The last time I saw H, it was also over breakfast – ten years earlier, at a smart café on Melrose in West Hollywood. I think we both thought it safest, it being too civilised for coffee or knives to be flung. I’m pretty sure he had eggs Benedict, while, trying to distance myself from him, from our heretofore near-perfect culinary harmony, I ordered something sweet, probably French toast. It was uncharacteristic. I am not, as I’m sure he would agree, a “sweet” person. I didn’t even have the option of delightful crispy bacon to soak up the maple syrup – I didn’t eat meat, then. But, well, he didn’t eat cock, then. We’re different people now.

When I arrived, San Francisco was suffering an uncharacteristic heat wave. Already fuming at the early-morning start and at my own weakness in thinking this was a good idea, I clambered up hill after hill, the bright-green Prada heels I’d been determined to wear slipping across the sidewalks, and arrived dripping with sweat at H’s aggressively trendy ad-agency workplace. Reception was at the top of two flights of marble stairs and as I tried to catch my breath, I reflected on the grotesqueness of its gold-patterned wallpaper. Then I realised it was shelves upon shelves of glassed-in Clios and Roses and those chunks of gilded tin they hand out at Montreux, stretching into the distance. 

After fifteen minutes or so, he bounded down the big central staircase, unapologetic and skinny and glowing as ever. We dawdled down to the waterside as he rambled with mock chagrin about all the trips to Delhi and Dubai he’d had to make recently; the time-sapping TV pilot he was developing; the expensively decorated, lonely city-centre apartment; the much older boyfriend, whose ex-wife and children dared to stake a claim on his time and substantial bank account. We stopped at a chic oyster bar where the waitresses all knew his name and, ever the gentleman, he guided me solicitously to the seat with the most picture-postcard-perfect view of the Bay Bridge, with hands that had always felt like soft, nimble brown paws. 

Americans have funny ideas about what constitutes brunch. Or maybe it was normal for ad men, or for borderline-eating-disordered gays in San Francisco. H ordered a massive platter of oysters (“All Pacific, obviously,” he reminded the waitress with a wink) and a crispy, gooey, three-farmers-market-cheeses-on-grilled-artisan-sourdough sandwich that he suggested we split but only watched me eat with hungry, shining eyes. 

Afterwards, I sat down in front of the Ferry to watch the pigeons. They were bigger than London’s nervy, ragged birds, glossy and sedate. I wanted to tell H that they chose marriage and kids and got fat and stupid. I wanted to ask if he remembered the icy winter night a few months after we met, when we argued, even worse than usual – him screaming, me sobbing, somebody coming down from upstairs to scream at both of us to shut up. He had stopped instantly. Then he had poured two shots of whiskey, looked at them for a long minute, and flung them out the window into the snow. He had taken my hand in the newly echoing silence and pulled me into a wordless, graceful waltz until I slumped into him, exhausted. 

My phone rang. I ignored it for a minute, then reached inside my bag. Next to the phone was a small package. Under the brown-paper wrapping and narrow red ribbon was a crinkly bag of very expensive jasmine-flower tea, and another of dried orange slices, which I’d bought in Beijing two years earlier, seeing them next to each other on a supermarket shelf like glowing talismans and suddenly panicking that I hadn’t seen H in eight years and might never see him again. We’d listened to Leonard Cohen nonstop in those first few months, although that day on the waterfront I was thinking less of “Suzanne” than of another song, the one I still can’t bear to hear, with its extraordinary, searing selfishness. “If I have been unkind,” he croons, “I hope that you can just let it go by.” I guess we’ve both tried in our way to be free.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Smiths, St Leonards-on-Sea

Smiths
21 Grand Parade

St Leonards-on-Sea
East Sussex

TN37 6DN

by Nelson Griddle

To St Leonards for the weekend, where my sister has recently bought a one-bedroom flat there for a sum of money that would only get you a shoebox in London,  and a pretty poky shoebox at that.

Late autumn sunlight shimmers on the sea, the shingle is endlessly entertaining to my one-year-old son, and not very much seems to happen on the streets lined with faded, slightly wedding-cakey Victorian stucco houses.

In total, it feels a bit like Brighton in the early Nineties, kept from more rapid development by the slow train – and even slower A21 – to London.

But we’re not here for the travel details, I hear you cry. What are the breakfasts like?

We go to Smiths on the sea front (their strapline is “Real Food”) to find out, and taste a truly excellent full English. My New Year’s resolution a couple of years ago was to eat more quality pork products – something which, like most of my NYRs, I have failed to achieve. However, this sojourn to sunny St L’s helps me to make up for lost time.

The Cumberland sausages are superb. Ditto the bacon and black pudding.  The baby tomatoes, moreover, are bursting with flavour, and the poached eggs (territory on which your average short-order cook often slips up) are top notch.

Which only leaves the service. They are friendly enough, these St Leonards folk, but I have to articulate a gripe when it comes to our waiter’s shirt. On this particular Sunday morning he was sporting a pale blue Ralph Lauren number. Difficult enough to take exception to, you might think, were it not for the fact that the back of this garment was soaking – literally soaking - in sweat. I’ve no doubt waitering is hot work, but at what point does waiterly perspiration put your punters off their grub?

This is a question for Smiths to ponder. Along with the issue of what on earth “real food” means. The opposite of ontologically non-existent food, perhaps? Or existentially inauthentic food? I suspect the issue of sweaty shirts will prove less philosophically abstruse.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Café Bon, West Hampstead

Café Bon
94 West End Lane
West Hampstead
London
NW6 2LU
020 7624 7548

by John le Café

West Hampstead is not blessed with a lot of good breakfast options. There is only one proper caff but it is sub-standard, and there are posh cafés, but on a Sunday, with a hangover, I didn’t want to spend £9 on something involving sourdough bread.

When I neared Café Bon I saw a sign outside which advertised it as a ‘Caffee’. Now, I have often considered the differences between a caff and a café but a ‘Caffee’ was a new one on me.

Inside I found out that it was a hybrid: part caff and part café. They had a full range of healthier sandwiches and salads but still offered a full English for £4.50. A few of the tables were busy with people talking or reading the newspapers. I was encouraged.

I ordered from the slightly surly owner and waited. I began to worry when my tea did not come. I waited and eventually it did arrive but not on its own. It came with the rest of the breakfast. Upon tasting it seemed that the tea bag had been left in the whole time the breakfast was cooking. It was thick, bitter and also too hot to enjoy with the food. Not a great start.

There were, however, some positives. The sausages were good – the expensive end of cheap caff sausages. Probably full of sawdust and cheap cuts but undoubtedly the best type of sausage for a Sunday morning. There was also enough toast. Four slices of wonderfully cheap, thick, white bread. And loads of beans.

That’s where the positives end. The toast, though plentiful was in the wrong place. It was all under the beans. This meant it was impossible to enjoy a piece of toast which wasn’t slathered in tomato sauce. Now I, like most people I presume, enjoy beans on toast but I also wanted other things with my toast.

The mushrooms were greasy and tasteless and I only had two sad-looking slivers of a grilled tomato. The fried egg was hard in the middle and there wasn’t any brown sauce. I may repeat that to emphasise the point. There was no brown sauce in the entire place.

Then we have to discuss the bacon. Surely, the most important element of the breakfast and one that if done well, could have lifted the rest of the disappointing meal. But this wasn’t real bacon. It was imitation bacon. It had no fat, no flavour and a strange, almost burgundy, colour. I feel calling it bacon is a grand exaggeration.

I waited for the owner to finish the loud argument he was having over the phone and paid. One to avoid. Next weekend I will begin my search again.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Café 1001, Spitalfields

Café 1001
91 Brick Lane
Spitalfields
E1 6QL (on corner of Dray Walk)

by Marge E. Reen

Breakfast ordered: Full English

Cost: £6

Time: 9 am Sunday morning.

Weather conditions: Hot and humid.

Location: Bench in alley off Brick Lane leading towards Rough Trade East. In the evenings Café 1001 is always heaving with drunk people eating burgers and fried chicken from the outdoor grill but at this hour it was sleepily quiet, too early for the hipster hordes to have surfaced. 

Service: Charmless. 

Forensic analysis

Exhibit A (sausage): Looked like a pallid penis in a ripped condom. Barely browned, microwaved, dubious pink colour. When I complained the manager insisted it was ‘a very nice Cumberland sausage’ despite all visual and gustatory evidence to the contrary.

Exhibit B (eggs):  Bone dry, leathery and not scrambled, which was what I had asked for, although the waitress/cook insisted I hadn’t.

Exhibit C (tomato): Hard, unforgiving and had only glimpsed a frying pan.

Exhibit D (coffee): Piss-weak.

Exhibit E (beans): The sauce had a mealy, furry quality, which suggested this item had been cooked a while before and reheated, possibly several times. 

Exhibit F (bacon): Overcooked but passable. About the only thing they didn’t manage to entirely screw up apart from...

Exhibit G (mushrooms): Decent, but could not compensate for the fact that my stomach had been utterly turned by Exhibits A and B.

Exhibit H (white toast): I sent my breakfast back before I got a chance to taste this but I don’t imagine this café is capable of toasting bread properly.

Verdict: Guilty of serving badly-cooked, borderline inedible food. After a brief (and relatively restrained) confrontation with the manager I got a refund. I hope my case for the prosecution has persuaded you not to go to this café. One of the worst breakfasts I have ever attempted to eat. I did consider forcing myself to finish it as I was hungry but I feared I would get food poisoning from the sausage, or something worse. 

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Wetherspoons, Leeds

Wetherspoons
North Concourse
Leeds City Station
Leeds
West Yorkshire
LS1 4DT
0113 247 1676
www.jdwetherspoon.co.uk/home/pubs/wetherspoons-leeds

by Michel Houellebrecq

What, or maybe more precisely who, in the name of God is a ‘Wetherspoon’? Sure, the website blathers on with some cheerily happy-clappy explanation, but I’m not convinced. If he (sorry) is a bloke, rather than a piece of undecidable cutlery, then I’d like to imagine he’s a pretty decent, salt-of-the-earth kind of (Northern) bloke, fresh back from a day’s honest graft to get in a couple o’t’ales for t’lads. It’s more likely, however, that he’s currently reclining on an inflatable lilo, sipping umbrella’d Pina Coladas as a fleet of nymphets (sorry, again) pamper his tootsies and buff his W-monogrammed belt-buckle.

Whoever he is, if the Leeds examples of his offerings are anything to go by, he’s onto a winner and his brand has turned things around, casting off images of sticky-carpeted hovels filled exclusively with the disturbed, the aggressive and the lonely. I was on a fleeting visit to Yorkshire and, whereas five years ago I would’ve pretended I’d gone to the infinitely classier (or slightly less shameful) All-Bar-One instead, I’m proud to publicly state that the only licensed hospitality I received during my time in the UK’s third-biggest city was from J.D. Wetherspoon Esq. Yes, you heard correctly.

I’d been impressed by the Thursday nite vibe of the Beckett’s Bank Branch. We’d wandered in there half by mistake: we were tired and hotelling in the vicinity, your Honour. I had to do a double take. This wasn’t the Wetherspoons of old. Where were the broken chairs? The shattered glass? The muscly dogs? The eight-man brawls? They’d been replaced by families, cross-cultural groups drinking coffee and having intelligent-looking debates, craft beer, real ales and fancy ciders. No-one was being beaten up, especially not me. We were so impressed, in fact, that we made a date for an early breakfast the following morning at the Station branch (this one didn’t open early enough); the newly-launched menu looked promising.

I wouldn’t normally dream of eating, or drinking (or maybe even breathing) in most British train stations, but if you put the depressing thought of the guy on the fruit machines gambling hard at 7.30am on a Friday out of mind, it was a joy. Cheap, decent, tasty, well-cooked, I might even dare ‘hearty’ fodder: what’s not to like? £4.60 for a ginormous ‘large’ cooked breakfast, £3.90 for a much more sensible ‘traditional’ version of the same. Everything you’d want was present and correct; sausages had substance, toast had poppy seeds (POPPY SEEDS!) and it was just the right side of greasy. Yeah, so the mushrooms might’ve been slightly on the soggy side, and they insisted on giving us each half a grilled tomato (who the hell actually eats them?), but I’m splitting hairs. They even have a selection of porridge and fresh fruit with ‘Greek-style’ honey. All the calories are clearly displayed for the post-5/2 generation. Coffee was good (hot, strong) and you get free refills until deep in the afternoon. Under £11 for breakfast for two. It’s a bleedin’ public service. Criticising this would be like slagging off a sunny day, although, rest assured, I’ve been known to do that. Whether Herr Wetherspoon is an honest sod, or a smily spiv, it matters not. His gaff is worth a (re)visit.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

ChwarChra Hotel, Erbil, Iraqi Kurdistan

ChwarChra Hotel
Sheikh Abdulsalam Barzani Street
Erbil
+964 66 2231508
www.chwarchrahotel.com

by Thom Yolke

Unless you happen to live in a cave with a dodgy router, it’s more or less impossible to avoid the torrent of unsettling news coming from Iraq at present. The black flags of the Islamic State have unfurled across the country, plunging the whole region into ever greater uncertainty. And yet, it was only in May of this year, just before ISIS (as they were then known) began literally bulldozing the borders, that I found myself having breakfast in Iraqi Kurdistan.

Erbil, the capital city of the Kurdish territory, was, until recently, a relatively safe and even prosperous place, due largely to the steady flow of oil money that has seen shiny new hotels continue to sprout up on an almost weekly basis. These hotels, I quickly discovered, cater largely to those who want to preserve a semblance of Western continuity. Their lobbies chime with muzak versions of British or American power ballads, and their menus offer Western staples to reassure the far-from-home oil men. I would be staying in a different sort of hotel altogether.

My hotel had the look of a place that had witnessed another era, and survived it. A whitish, boxy building which had begun to flake at the edges, the entrance was adorned with a flickering neon sign, and lined with an eclectic menagerie of taxidermy. Beady eyed goats and lion cubs appeared locked into eternal staring contests. There was a distinctly bohemian atmosphere among the labyrinth of sofas that lined the lobby, as though you could expect to hear two local poets having a heated argument about form while becoming increasingly enveloped in a cloud of shish-a smoke.

On my first morning, I ventured over to the buffet and at first was underwhelmed, but on reflection I realised that’s because I didn’t really know what I was looking at. Some of the options looked familiar enough, sliced pineapple and dates, yoghurt and honey. It was only when I was encouraged with a gesture from the waiter to try a thick creamy substance that I initially passed over, that my eyes were opened. The waiter, not speaking English, nodded that I should combine it with a fine, dark looking jam which I noticed had a golden iridescence to it as I spooned a generous splodge over the fluffy cream. The waiter signalled his approval with a thumbs up and a wink as I sat down. The first mouthful confirmed that it was fresh fig jam, a Biblical fruit rendered into sin. The strong flavour of the jam was complemented by the cleansing neutrality of the cream, which after further enquiries I discovered to be Buffalo curd, also popular in neighbouring Iran and Turkey. Less rubbery than its cousin mozzarella it possesses a paradoxical lightness of flavour with a decadently whipped texture. It occurred to me that this combination was probably an ancient delicacy, enjoyed by the Sumerians or Babylonians who could afford such delights. Being a novice and aware that there were no set limits on quantities at the buffet, I may have slightly overdone the portions. Four helpings later, like any hedonistic Babylonian, I could barely move from my chair, and the sympathetic nodding of the waiter as he collected my bowl told me he was no stranger to this sensation either.

It took me most of the day to recover from the overwhelming richness of the dish, but it didn’t stop me going back for a single helping the following morning, or the next.

Thursday, August 07, 2014

Riverside Cafe, Clapton

Riverside Cafe
Riverside Cottage
Spring Hill
near Springfield Marina and Lea Rowing Club
Clapton
E5 9BL
020 8806 4448

by Marge E. Reen

‘Lisa and Stacy welcome you,’ said the sign outside, but we didn’t feel very welcome when we went in and the two girls on the counter ignored us for five minutes before one sulkily asked what we’d like.

‘A breakfast,’ said Mr Reen.

‘Breakfasts finish at 12 o’clock. It says it on the sign.’

This must have been on the other side of the sign.

‘I’ll have a ham and cheese omelette,’ I said, which is as near to breakfast as you can get. 

‘I’ll just have a white Americano,’ said Mr Reen. ‘I’m not giving them any more of my money if I can’t have a breakfast,’ he muttered as we made our way outside to find a seat.

Despite the blazing morning and the abundance of potential outdoor seating space overlooking the river, there were only about four benches so we had to share one with a father and his young daughter, who had been waiting for their food for a while and feared they had been forgotten. (It turned out they had.) They were remarkably sanguine while Mr Reen and I grumbled about how the Riverside Cafe wasn’t like it used to be, although, even then, under its previous management, it was pretty chaotic. At least they served breakfasts all day though. 

On the plus side it’s heartening that this lovely spot on the banks of the River Lea hasn’t yet been snapped up by a load of hipsters wanting to charge you nine point five for a tiny portion of organic scrambled eggs on sourdough. The Riverside Cafe is a greasy spoon and prices are agreeably low.

My omelette arrived before our neighbours’ food and it was, I have to admit, very good. Generously proportioned with plenty of chips on the side, coleslaw and a fresh, if rather small, salad. Only five point five too. Mr Reen’s Americano was, in his words, ‘foul’. He suspected it was made from Lidl’s coffee. He watched me eat and then made me go up to Spark Cafe in Springfield Park (reviewed favourably elsewhere on this site), where I watched him eat a proper breakfast. He gave me a small bite of his sausage.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Big Jones, Chicago, USA

Big Jones
5347 N Clark St., Chicago
773-275-5725
www.bigjoneschicago.com

by T. N. Toost

I found myself, on 5 July, breakfasting with a former Tokyo dominatrix, a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu champion/stand-up comedian, and a prostitute.

I could have predicted breakfast with Natsuki and John; she has been my best friend since college, and it was natural that I’d want to meet her amazing new boyfriend. Having breakfast with an honest-to-God prostitute was something I never would have predicted. But the previous day, the Fourth of July, we’d all gone over to pick Nora up at her apartment – or, rather, one of her apartments, because she did business out of one and lived in the other. She called it the “HOstel.” She asked if we wanted to come up to see it, and, in reality, I didn’t, but I did anyway to be polite, and, in reality, I kind of did want to see it.

Prostitution is something that I intellectually believe should be decriminalized. People should be able to sell their services and their bodies in any way they wish, provided they don’t harm others and are not being exploited. Plus, to a certain extent, we all sell sex in some way; as Brendan Behan once quipped, the difference between sex for money and sex for free is that sex for money usually costs less.

At the same time, I had a visceral negative reaction to being in a functioning brothel that I never would have anticipated. Standing in the living room of her work space, next to a strap-on dildo and variously sized paddles and two massive deer heads hanging on the wall, listening to a detailed account of how long it took to paint the 20-foot walls, and how the massage table only cost $150, and how they had to have a pile of new sponges for washing toys, and how they had elaborate plans to soundproof the rooms from the family living below them – standing there, I realized that my arms were tightly crossed in front of my body, and my mouth was drawn grimly against my teeth, and that I was very, very uncomfortable. I forced myself to uncross my arms and relax my face, and I listened, without comment, to a story about the fight she was having with her landlord to get a separate buzzer for her room so that her clients could be independently buzzed in and wouldn’t be seen by the clients of her partner.

Writing this, one week later, it strikes me that she is actually running her business pretty professionally – the only thing that gives it any salaciousness is the fact that society is so hung up on sex. She has to think about how to report her income, and securing business, and competition, and advertising, and government overreach, and land use issues, and overhead. She has databases to check whether potential clients are deadbeats, and online forums to discuss new business developments. When she goes out of town on business, she calls it being “on tour,” and she has to find places to work, new clients, and negotiate fees ahead of time to cover her travel expenses. And she thinks of little details, like filling her fridge with coconut water and cans of San Pellegrino. She didn’t say this, but I think she had San Pellegrino because of the foil cap on the cans that you peel back in order to sip it. It makes people like me feel less worried about drinking it; the foil acts as a condom, keeping germs from getting on the can and thus to my lips. I sipped it, delicately, as she told us that one of the persistent hazards of her work was sharting.

Prostitutes also pay close attention to their health. As she sat across the table from me that beautiful, clear Chicago morning, she was sweaty, after having biked 15 miles along the shores of Lake Michigan. When the food arrived, she had a huge plate of buckwheat pancakes topped with raspberries; they were gluten free, and she paired it with a Sazerac. I had “Eugene’s Breakfast in Mobile, circa 1930,” a dish inspired by a jazz musician who decided to become a chef. The catfish was delicious, the breading was light brown and flaky, the plantains and beans and rice were all seasoned perfectly. I washed it down with strong, black coffee.

And then there was the question of etiquette that might only come up when dining with a prostitute. I had no problem passing along a piece of catfish and plantains to her, but then she reciprocated. When she cut off a piece of pancake, placed a raspberry on top, and passed it onto my plate with her fork, I paused. She saw five clients a day, at times, and I thought of the dildo on the wall, and remembered how she had licked powdered sugar off of her fork as if it were a lollipop. That was the same fork that had speared the raspberry and the pancake and then had dropped both pieces of food onto my plate, on the edge, so it wouldn’t mix with my food. I swallowed hard for a second, considering how I might decline.

But I didn’t. She was my friend before she was a prostitute.

And her pancakes were, admittedly, delicious.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Terrace Cafeteria at the House of Commons, Westminster

The Terrace Cafeteria
House of Commons
Westminster
SW1A 0AA
(MPs, certain staff and their guests only)

by Marge E. Reen

Parliament is prorogued—ie on a break between one session and the next—and the MPs are, according to the press, ‘on holiday’ but actually they’re more likely to be in their constituencies worrying what to do about UKIP. It’s a May morning just after the local council elections and I take advantage of the calm by having a leisurely breakfast in my workplace. The Terrace Cafeteria is where I come most days for lunch but, as I don’t want to end up like Sir Nicholas Soames, I don’t usually breakfast here as well.

The Terrace is comfortingly old-fashioned with a Pugin-tiled serving area and a wood-panelled, green-carpeted dining room which overlooks the Thames. According to a friend who went to one, it’s like being in a boarding school refectory, and on this unseasonably rainy morning, I feel especially cosseted from the outside world. Modernisms have crept in—to my dismay they now have an electronic screen, which announces the menus of the day, but, for the most part, it’s as unchanging as Michael Fabricant’s hairdo.

At 10 am the Terrace is busy with burly builders, fat policemen and thin researchers. The canteen staff are, as ever, friendly and professional. Breakfast items sweat gently under a heat lamp on the serving counter. I take one rasher of bacon, one sausage, one hash brown and one spoon each of scrambled eggs, tinned tomatoes and mushrooms along with one small cup of filter coffee. All this comes to £3.60. An absolute bargain. It tastes good too. The scrambled eggs are creamy, the sausage herby and plump, the bacon entirely decent and the hash brown a slightly naff guilty pleasure. I do like the fact the tomatoes are tinned as fresh tomatoes can be so hard and tasteless. The mushrooms are a particular delight: unctuous with dark, savoury juices. After all this I feel ready to stride the corridors of power and look David Cameron straight in the eye should I bump into him, which of course I don’t.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Op-Egg: Why I Hate Going Out for Breakfast

by Fyodor Toastoevsky

Before moving to London from a sleepy West Midlands town I’d never given breakfast 'out' much thought; it was only when time or location necessitated it that I’d reluctantly take my eggs à la God-knows-whom, and it was precisely because it was necessitated that the food’s quality had never really mattered.

The difference between a greasy spoon breakfast and a breakfast at home is enormous; I have time for the former, as I am unlikely to prepare myself a white bap stuffed with bacon and dripping with grease and brown sauce. Therefore, when, on occasion, I have found myself eating a greasy-spoon breakfast, I have treated it as a different beast and thoroughly enjoyed it for what it is.

Here, in a city offering a chance for real community, though, I have found myself, for the first time, seeing people actively going out of their way to eat breakfast away from home despite having easy access to their kitchens, ample time and good ingredients. Somewhat naively, I  initially took this to mean that breakfasts ‘out’ in the capital were a cut above the rest.

I will beat around no bushes here; I am a scholar of homemade breakfasts. I am an expert in eggs, an artist in accompaniments and a maestro of the multitasking required to produce a fine breakfast. I was not born with these expertise; I worked on them weekly, with dedication and love, for even from a young age I could see the value inherent in them. Given that these are, with just a little patience, skills quite within our mortal grasps, it seems ridiculous that we should go through life without honing them, and absurd that we should spend the veritable bags of money requested by twee cafes to consume a love-starved and unsatisfying breakfast.

I do understand spending money on dining; if nothing else it’s probably the best way of experiencing cuisine you may not at home. Breakfast out, however, is beyond my comprehension. Its creation is neither a complicated nor an expensive procedure; yet when we eat it out we often spend a sickening amount just to have it as we wish. I mean, damn it, I shouldn't have to pay extra for coffee (or again for a second cup, should I wish it) and certainly I shouldn't have to do so for the basic privilege of bacon, as a fellow contributor once had to at Stoke Newington's Blue Legume. For a comparative drop in the bucket, I can feed a table of friends a lazy weekend feast the likes of which cash will not buy in the outside world.

Finances aside, it is a joy to prepare one’s own breakfast. There is no rush, there is no inexplicable wait, there is no want for space, and most importantly of all, the food is good and plentiful, every time. There is also, damn it, as much coffee as we like.

"But!" I hear you clamouring, "the washing up! The time! The effort of it all!" - well, to quote Theodore Roosevelt: "Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty…", and let's be honest with ourselves; investing a little time in achieving the perfect start to your weekend is surely a sacrifice of far more worth than casting a fistful of money at a small plate of lukewarm non-breakfast and a cup of coffee you have to savour.

I implore you to remember the home-cooked breakfast, each of which is your own work of art, never quite the same twice. Don’t risk your valuable time and money on the whims of stony-faced cafe staff and nameless breakfast chefs.

Take control of your breakfasts and you take control of your weekends; take control of your weekends and you take control of your life.

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