The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Friday, April 04, 2008

Op-Egg: What the Terminal 5 fiasco teaches us about breakfast

by Poppy Tartt

If only they had all had a good breakfast, I wondered aloud as I pondered the Heathrow Terminal 5 fiasco, this might never have happened. I was speaking metaphorically of course. Be prepared! A mantra for breakfasters and baggage handlers the world over. Breakfasting should be like packing for a journey, and packing well.

A wise packer lays everything out before placing the items in their suitcase, considers which items to pack first, which to leave out and which to enfold delicately within another item. It is both the point and pitfall of dining out that in doing so you relinquish this preliminary (but fundamental) stage to a shadowy third party. As all airport employees know this is the very seed of threat. Suppose your moisturizer had been carelessly thrown in with your clothes! In transit, anything could happen: the possibilities are devastating. This is one of the worst dangers with beans. They are the chief culprits of breakfast moisture (discounting, of course, the drink, which has the decency to wear its wetness on its sleeve). Beans are forever poised to taint the delicate patina of an egg, that silken garment so easily ruined by a lotion explosion; they are desperate to ooze remorselessly into the soft undersides of toast, to flatten a crisp hash brown into a wet runway.

Since the renaissance of terrorism – the beans of the western world – measures have been taken to save us from the wickedness of unregulated moisture. On planes liquids are now carried separately: sealed off, yet accessible, in case moisture is required at short notice. Follow this system on the breakfast plate. Some may consider it extreme to house beans in a separate bowl. I consider it essential. Even a bank of sausages is not always enough to curb their insidious, creeping nature.

When it comes to the honestly wet, tea and coffee, separation from the meal generally occurs by default. I would personally advise the packing of tea over coffee – the former may help ease any congestion in storing other items within your case, whereas the latter will certainly make them weigh more heavily upon you. Juice is a personal choice; I would not recommend it but there are those who might like to take a small glass pre-breakfast, in manner of a pre-flight Valium.

The bulk of your luggage will generally be formed by the animal products. The only way to take your eggs is with a yolk. Scrambled eggs have a tendency to disperse, getting smaller and smaller, hiding in the folds of bacon and grumbling about their misfortunes. Any items liable to entropy ought to be contained before packing. A yolked egg is also a suitable foil for the absence of beans, which can leave the plate (and palate) a little dry. I beseech you – never pack the two together! There are some who encourage a goodbye smooch between beans and egg, who smother a fried egg in ketchup and even salivate as the red and yellow run together like some horrible reunion between blood and plasma. These are probably the same people who pack shampoo in their shoes or put books in wash bags. They cannot be saved.

When it comes to sausage and bacon, be cautious. True, they go together like British Airways and chaos, but we would do well to ask whether they might not do rather better apart. If you pack jeans, does it follow that you must also pack a denim shirt? Not unless you are a redneck. When travelling, too much meat can be a burden. Pack too much in, and you will sweat. If you do decide to take only one, take the sausage. Bacon is so prone to curling up in a corner, pinkish grey and unappealing as a discarded thong.

A common mistake people make when packing a suitcase is to take items which they have not used for years. Breakfast should prepare you for an adventure; it should not be an adventure in itself. Take what you know you like. When you haven’t got room for something, wait a little while and try again. But be aware that if you pack everything in too tightly, it may be difficult to unpack at the other end. Worse still, your suitcase might burst open on the journey. Perhaps after all I am wrong in assuming that the people behind Terminal 5 failed to take their breakfast. Perhaps they breakfasted indeed, but breakfasted without caution, unadvisedly, with little thought for what went here, what there. A well-packed suitcase is a beautiful thing. Your stomach is a suitcase that goes with you everywhere. Pack it well and, eventually, you will fly.


Blogger Bex said...

Never heard breakfast compared to an airport terminal before. Too funny.

6:17 PM, April 07, 2008  
Blogger Tiki Chris said...

Brilliant stuff! Londonist feautured this post as part of this month's London Food Blog Round-Up:

8:44 AM, April 30, 2008  
Blogger annie mole said...

This is indeed a genius post Poppy you clearly know your way around a breakfast plate. Wish we could say the same of those fookwits at Terminal 5

I'm quite particular about how wet my food gets with bean juice and only certain ketchups will do with breakfast and then I have to be in the right mood for them.

3:08 PM, April 30, 2008  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Listed on BlogShares