British Airways breakfast, somewhere over northern Portugal
(somewhere over northern Portugal)
by hAshley Brown
Altitude: 32000 feet, Speed: 532 mph, Outside temp: -55 C.
It's 5.32am (time at destination) and somewhere between an ashcloud and an impending strike, flight BA246 hopes to land at Heathrow sooner rather than later. Rumour has it that whilst we've been in the air (en route from Buenos Aires via Sao Paolo) Heathrow has closed and may well reopen again. But right now, in the cycle of false dusks and dawns regulated by the steely yet good-humoured will of the air stewardesses, the fitful mid night slumbers of my cabin compadres has been forcefully truncated by cabin lights and an offer of breakfast.
It's full English breakfasts, or cheese croissants, that are hidden alluringly below the foil lids and have been tucked up warm since we left Brazil. My stewardess assures me that all the cheese croissants will go, as Brazilians don't really 'get' the bacon and eggs. It's a heavy responsibility for our national carrier: for many, their first taste of our national dish may come on a little tray and be eaten with branded plastic cutlery. (The irony being of course that this pivotal meal is never assembled on home shores. I imagine they have good reason for not calling this one the full Brazilian.)
Considering the challenges faced by anyone trying to keep a breakfast warm and decent-tasting for 12 hours, this meal certainly tries. A fattier cut of streaky bacon, once grilled, now taking on a braised demeanour, is full of flavour if somewhat oversalted. A little sausage lurks behind a pile of baked tomato slices, the tomato prone to blandness, the sausage coarse cut and lightly spiced. But there is a blot on the horizon, like the belching Eyjafjallajökull - a pile of scrambled eggs, ruining everything for everyone. With a granularity not dissimilar to that of looming ashcloud, these eggs are not of this world and certainly not from any chicken i've ever met.
Elsewhere on the tray - a fruit medley of papaya, pineapple and over-eager melon join some brazillian orange juice, the ubiquitous plain muffin (prizes to whoever can get it out of the plastic wrapper with glazed muffin top intact), and some perfunctory coffee.
It's not the greatest breakfast, yet the novelty of its arrival, and the lucky-break in airspace restrictions that followed, makes it taste all the better.