The London Review of Breakfasts

"Hope is a good breakfast, but it is a bad supper." (Francis Bacon)

Monday, April 14, 2008

Op-Egg: Solving the breakfast class divide

by Blake Pudding

In Britain we have a problem with breakfasts. In fact, we have a problem with food in general and like a lot of problems in this country it boils down to class. I speak of the great divide between the caff and the café. In the caff you will be served enormous quantities of not very good quality food quickly and with no pretension or fuss. In the café, there may be a mission statement, there may be a picture of Nicaraguan peasants' children dancing happily because their parents have got a good price for their coffee, there may well be a family tree showing the lineage of the pork products. This will all be a mask to hide the fact that they don’t really know what they are doing. The service will be terrible, the sausages will be over-cooked and the eggs will be under-cooked. In places like this, I look at the quality of the ingredients and weep at the waste and weep at the bill too which normally tops £7 for a full English. Complaining is pointless because all the staff are part-time and most of them are as hungover as the clientele.

What they lack is discipline!

Back at the caff, a stern patriarch (probably called Nico and of Greek Cypriot origin), will be conducting his kitchen in a symphony of steam and hissing fat. Your food will arrive miraculously quickly and will be exactly how you ordered it. The problem comes when you start to think about where your food comes from. Those peculiar brown/ grey bangers are fine for the lower orders who have never tasted better but once you have tried a proper sausage then you will not want to go back.

What’s to be done? I would love to see a reality TV show where Nico is sent into one of these organic rip-off joints to put the fear of God into the pretty fey staff. That would make excellent television and probably very good breakfast. Alternatively greasy spoons caffs could offer a better class of sausage and bacon alongside the traditional tat. In a masterstroke the decline of the caff would be halted. You would have the best of both worlds, the caff and the café. The middle class would eat roughly the same food on the same premises as working class. It could spell the end of the class conflict that has plagued England since the Norman Conquest.


Blogger Andrea Kirkby said...

Brilliant editorial! The relative classnessness of French eating establishments is something I miss when I'm in Britain - the best French meal I've ever had was in a real 'Les Routiers' place, with truck drivers at one table, a lycra'd cyclist at another, and a local couple celebrating their wedding anniversary in there too.

I look forward to the reality TV show! A new star could be born...

4:52 PM, February 24, 2011  

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