The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Monday, June 09, 2008

Op-Egg: What we talk about when we talk about wedding breakfasts

by Hashley Brown

Getting married is a fraught business. Not only do you have the standard barriers to progress: the mother-in-law, invitations, what socks to wear; you also have to think about feeding people. In the face of this sticky problem, the new Mrs Brown and I decided to ignore it altogether. We made this decision not only because wedding meals can be tedious, relative-filled affairs, but also because they are so inappropriately named. No wedding breakfast I can think of has ever had a fried egg in it.

Whilst you may argue that the significance of the name lies in the breaking of the fast of bachelor-hood, I feel this literal interpretation leaves much to be desired and casts breakfast in a thoroughly unsavoury light. To my mind, breakfast is a celebration. Each morning one revels in the light of a new day. It is an existential marker one eats to affirm that he or she made it through the night.

It is disingenuous then to talk of a wedding breakfast, when in reality there are two real wedding breakfasts to consider: what one eats at the start of their wedding day, as celebration of life so far, and to gird the loins for challenges ahead; and what one eats with their bride or groom on the first glorious morning of married life. To me these meals are crucial - setting the tenor of both the wedding and the marriage to come.

In a concession to tradition, Mrs Brown and I spent the night before our wedding apart. I was hosted by friends and when bleary eyed - and with a hint of trepidation - crawled down their stairs on the big day, I was greeted with that cheery and heart warming call of 'Breakfast?'. What to eat on a morning like this? Not enough and you risk collapsing at the altar, too much and that knot in your stomach becomes an unpleasant sausagey one. My host, A., took the decision out of my hands and within moments had plated up 2 poached eggs on granary, with a watercress salad on the side. In one fell swoop she had provided me with a hefty protein hit for the day, whilst eschewing any greasy unpleasantness. Full marks to the lady, I thought, as I sat around the table with my best-man and good friends feeling the warm glow of breakfasting communion. I felt prepared, both emotionally and physically, for the day ahead.

[What followed went smoothly and safe to say there was no altar collapsing thanks to the prescience of my host.]

As dawn broke on the first breakfast of my married life, Mrs Brown and I were ensconced in the warm 16th century embrace of the Rookery Hotel in Clerkenwell. Thankfully there was to be none of that awkward breakfast buffet small talk, or sipping from ludicrously small glasses of juice that one can often experience in a hotel breakfast, as the Rookery only serves breakfast in bed. Not all breakfast options are suitable for leisurely and prostrate eating either, and thankfully no plates of sloppy beans or obstinate egg combinations were on offer. What arrived, on a substantial and sturdy wooden tray, was a breakfast to remember.

A bacon sandwich for me and a basket of fresh pastries for her came surrounded with freshly squeezed juices, dark velvety coffee and reassuring tea in a generous pot. It was a simple yet luxurious way to start the day. The bacon was thick cut and old-spot in a fresh warm ciabatta, the pastries and bread were glowing in that just baked rather than just re-microwaved way, and once we'd opened the complimentary bottle of champagne that we hadn't had the wherewithal to pop in the small hours of our arrival, a sumptuous feast was guaranteed. This wedding breakfast had no need to be fat free or considerate of the events of the day ahead. What it needed was to be decadent, to celebrate the start of something special...

Mr & Mrs Brown are still married.


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