The London Review of Breakfasts

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

Friday, August 05, 2011

Workers Cafe, Archway

Workers Cafe
740 Holloway Rd
N19 3JF
020 7281 5333
by Fi Tatta

A guy had broken my heart. Broken it like he'd intended to all along, like he'd been playing a long game since the day we met, broken it like he meant it.

He'd done the job thoroughly. My heart was shattered like the crazed glass of his dropped iPhone.

It's at times like these that one really needs breakfast. In my case, a dirty breakfast - the kind of breakfast that would meet my mood. Sparkling glassware and linen tablecloths and thick fingers of homemade bread would only have presented an appalling contrast with my inner despair. I needed a greasy spoon.

I entered the Workers Cafe in Archway (no apostrophe, no need to bother with such trivialities) in a haze of tears. And I ordered the breakfast, expecting lumpen eggs, grey sausages, a limp disaster of bacon. But, I was mistaken. Don't get me wrong. This isn't good food. It's bad food. But it's bad food done well.

There were piles of crunchy hash browns. Simple sausages with crisply browned skins. Fluffy scrambled eggs. A puddle of perfectly normal baked beans. There was even a little disc of bubble and squeak. It was the Platonic ideal of an ordinary fry-up, and yet how far we usually fall from ordinariness. I would eat it again. In fact I have done. It had the simplistic comfort I needed, the sense that a breakfast just like this has been eaten many millions of times, will be eaten millions of times in the future.

It is a curious thing, the end of a relationship. You end up carrying around the shared secrets, the hidden invented mutual language even though the thing to which those secrets appertained is gone and the only other native speaker of that language is vanished. I imagine that ex-KGB agents still sometimes find codewords and ciphers playing on their tongue as I remember that exact way he would tap my shoulder three times very softly which meant, in our symbolic language "I love you".

And then, eventually, will we pull out the same tired words, the same once-adorable gestures, for a new partner, who will not know their origin? We hope that love will bring something new out in us each time, but perhaps that is only an illusion. We are who we are.

Breakfast, curiously, is a kind of solace for such thoughts. Perhaps there was once an ur-sausage, a first slice of toast. Probably there was some moment when we first tasted a fried egg. It is lost to us now. But the need for breakfast does not go away because the first breakfast is gone. More important than recapturing the perfect breakfast is accepting one's longing for breakfast, and being willing to take what delight is available in the breakfast before you.

I did not expect to be reminded of delight by the Workers Cafe. But I was.


Blogger Milda said...

What a beautifully written post!

Really sorry about the heartache. But when you look back, every break-up has a silver lining - new relationships and wonderful feelings emerge out of the sorrow.

Best wishes,


10:05 AM, August 08, 2011  
Anonymous Layne said...

Dear Fi and Malcolm et. al. -
My name is Layne Mosler, and I'm the editor at Rama Food, a new digital food tour company. I'm not sure if you got my email, but I love your blog and wonder if you'd be interested in writing a tour for our iPhone app? If you'd like to send me an email - - I'd be glad to tell you more.
Cheers and happy eating,
PS - No, I'm not going to ask you to write for free!

5:25 PM, August 22, 2011  
Anonymous Chris Michael Michaels said...

Loving Layne's comment. A man who knows how to pick his moments, if ever I saw one. Should you ever be a cheerier mood, I recommend heading up the road to Diana, where the fried egg comes as a perfect circular disc, a shrunken Bon Jovi lives permanently inside the radio and there is an embroidered portrait of the lady herself, as well as some Disney scenes, on the wall. If you're sad, it will only make you more sad. But if you're happy, it will make you more happy. Yin to the Workers Cafe yang. Godspeed, lady.

10:30 AM, July 28, 2012  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful piece of writing from clearly a beautiful woman.

8:51 AM, August 05, 2012  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Listed on BlogShares