Sunday, 23 March 2008

It might have been quite nice, actually

There are a number of competing theories regarding the one key factor that led to the inexorable rise of the British Empire in the nineteenth century. Technology developed in the Industrial Revolution, the defeat of malaria, a strong navy and a rather casual attitude to native land claims are all contributors.

However, the Full English Breakfast must head up that list. How else would British adventurers of old been able to expand Her Majesty's horizons, were it not for a bellyful of bacon and sausages, washed down with a gallon of tea every morning?

More to the point, if you're waking up in a London hotel with a trip to Harrods and the return journey to Birmingham ahead of you, the F.E.B. is really the only way to go. Katie was with me on this point. Mike made some vague noises about having tried out the hotel gym that morning, but really I could see, deep in his eyes, a longing for carbs and fat. Strike one for the Commonwealth.

There's probably some etiquette about hotel breakfast buffets. About how you shouldn't pile your plate up high with even more dead farmyard animal than is absolutely necessary. And how you really don't need enough fried bread to sink a Dreadnaught.

As the great philosopher Homer once said: "Meh."

Returning to our table with heavily-laden plates, we sought that elusive creature, the hotel breakfast room waiter, for tea, coffee, toast, etc. Because clearly there wasn't going to be sufficient conspicuous consumption without a little help from the staff.

Finding one with a passing knowledge of the English language, we managed through a series of gestures and pictograms to place an order. He came back a few minutes later, with all the charm of the third Reich on manoeuvres, doling out coffee and a brownish liquid that was almost, but not quite, entirely unlike tea (thank you Douglas Adams). Various shades of toast followed, not necessarily delivered with the syncopation of a Busby Berkeley number, I have to say.

"Can we have something for this toast?" we asked, expecting some more of the little glass pots of jam, marmalade and the like. Small glass pots duly followed. Quite a few glass pots, actually. Oh blimey, we've got a lot of pots now, sunshine. Mr Ambassador, you're quite spoiling us.

Enough. With. The. Pots. Already.

"Is it me," asked Mike, "or has he just given us a load of pots containing almost nothing but tomato ketchup and brown sauce?"

Clearly someone had been out to lunch during the "How to identify suitable toppings for toast" lesson. But as I glanced around the room, I got ever so slightly worried. We were surrounded by foreign tourists, after all. A veritable United Nations of languages and accents rang out. What if they all actually thought this was what you're supposed to put on your toast as part of your F.E.B? When in Rome, and all that. After all, we Brits do eat some very odd things.

And in other news - I would just like to say here and now, for the record, that the Dodi and Diana Memorial in Harrods is the new International Benchmark for Tat. It's a photo of Dodi and Di. And people are queuing up to take pictures of it. Taking pictures of pictures. I ask you.


Rebecca said...

What is the function of the fried tomato slice in a traditional English breakfast?

fatboyfat said...

That's a pitfall waiting to trap the unwary traveller.

The fried tomato slice is there simply to add some colour to the plate, as a decoration. On no account should you ever actually eat it, for several reasons.

Firstly, the tomato seeds will have reached the temperature of nuclear fissile material.

Secondly, it will taste foul.

Rebecca said...

Is the tomato ever tasty? It seems like a good idea to put a bit of veg in a healthy-sized breakfast (and I love a nice, big bacon, eggs and toast breakfast--hell, even the baked beans sound good), but not if it's one of those tomatoes you find in the grocery stores that have more in common with soggy cardboard than other fruits of their species.

fatboyfat said...

I've never met a fried tomato slice in an FEB that's tasted of anything other than superheated frog spawn. That's why I'm assuming they're put in there for decoration purposes only.

City Girl said...

Clearly, American Southerners inherited their love of the three pound (unit of weight not currency)breakfast from their British forebearers.

You have not LIVED, honey, until you've sleepily absorbed eggs, bacon (or ham with redeye gravy), biscuits and sausage gravy - chocolate gravy optional - and fluffy cheese gits with good strong coffee. Not a piece of fruit in sight, not even in liquid form.

PS -Extra bonus points for referencing Nazis and musical theatre in the same post. :o)


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