Overdosing on Breakfast!

Continental Spread

Why is it that when I become a tourist I abandon my spartan bowl of cereal  and begin  each day by demolishing an enormous breakfast? At the basest level I fear it is because the meal is often included in the  hotel tariff and I feel I should get my money’s worth.  On a higher plane, I  need the extra fuel to drive me on the ceaseless round of cathedrals and museums.

The full English breakfast served at B&B’s throughout  the UK remains wonderfully unhealthy, with fried eggs served on fried bread alongside sausages and very fat bacon. It would never occur to me to order anything else.  The only problem lies in having the meal served before  9.00am. This is fine for the natives  who are happy to drain their teapots and motor gently away at 10.30 but we Aussies like to have a couple of hundred kilometres under our belts by then.

Some years ago Rob and I were in Blackpool to see the illuminations and after lengthy   negotiations  it was agreed we could have breakfast next morning at the ungodly hour of 8.15. All went well until our bleary eyed chef began  to fry the bacon. Unfortunately he forgot to put the fan on,  setting off the smoke alarm.  The next twenty minutes were total chaos. As staff  rushed around calling for calm, the chef set off the alarm twice more in his frantic efforts to disarm it.  A little later we met the manager in an upstairs corridor. “I do apologize for the problem this morning”, he said.  “A couple of bloody Australians  wanted breakfast  at dawn and  upset the system.” We smiled understandingly and left before a syllable of  ‘Strine’  escaped our lips.

Soon afterwards we   travelled to  the Continent, where  hotel breakfasts are often  incredible buffets of cold meats, salads, cheeses, fancy breads , pastries and cooked food of every description.  It was  absolute heaven! One morning in Prague, as a little ‘starter’, I filled a bowl with yogurt and a selection of cereals  then spotted some stewed plums sitting incongruously between dishes of potato salad and coleslaw.  I had spooned several onto my plate when Rob appeared beside me and said with horror; “What the hell are you doing?  They’re baby beetroots!”

I considered putting them back, but they  were covered in puffed rice and rolled oats.  I even considered forcing them down  pretending I’d meant to do it but I’ve always hated  beetroot. In the end I decided to hide the bowl behind a milk jug and start again.  As I did so  a voice behind me announced; “Madame, they are definitely  plums!  It was the head waiter, wearing an expression I can only describe as world weary amusement.

Many   elderly but enterprising  ladies  have been known to exist entirely on  generous breakfasts,  particularly  in expensive cities such as Vienna.  They become as deft as professional shop-lifters at  dropping croissants and pots of yogurt  into the open jaws of their  handbags.

Considering I have a severe allergy to preservatives I did take a  few risks with my foreign diet. Goodness knows  what  lurked within the frankfurters and bratwurst sausages I was packing away with my scrambled eggs.  However, there were no  ill effects and I happily ate my way from   Hungary to La Belle France.  It was quite an anticlimax to arrive back  in London and sit down to a bowl of bran flakes and sultanas.  “Never mind”, I told Rob. “At least this is healthy.”  Half an hour later I was   rushed to hospital by  ambulance with an oxygen mask on my face and a drip in my arm.  It appears  my ten day European  spree  had   topped  me up with preservatives and a minute trace   in the sultanas  tipped the balance!

Completely recovered but sadder and wiser, I was condemned to a week on wholemeal toast. Thank heavens  Vegemite is available at Tesco’s.


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