One of life’s greatest little pleasures is going to a pub or a café for a full-on breakfast, but few places get it exactly right.
As a purist in these matters, I think beans have no place on a breakfast plate. If you plan to serve me beans with my full Irish, which in truth isn’t all that different from a full English or a full Scottish, at least have the decency to put them in a little ramekin that I can discreetly remove and slip onto somebody else’s table when they’re not looking.
There should be no chips on a breakfast plate either, and no sautéed potatoes. That’s for dinner time, not breakfast.
As a purist, I also think there should be loads of toast. Loads. A few extra slices of bread wouldn’t kill anyone without me having to ask for more and it should arrive hot so that the butter can melt over it properly. Real butter that is. Give me real butter and give me toast that is not stone cold. That just isn’t on.
I had a breakfast recently on the Aran Islands where they smeared some butter-substitute over the middle part of the toast leaving the outer parts all dry and inedible — an unforgiveable transgression, I think you’ll agree, since the toast-buttering is all part of the ritual and should be left to the person doing the eating. Everyone has a unique way of buttering toast and that diversity needs to be respected. What is this country coming to when a haphazard slather of vegetable-oil fake butter is considered acceptable?
I don’t much care for these little rectangular pats of butter, but at least if I get enough of them it isn’t too bad. However, penny-pinching, or portion control as some people prefer to call it, is far too common. Seriously now. How much does a mushroom cost? I went to one of my favourite places not too long ago and got half a large mushroom on my plate. A half mushroom. It probably cost more to cut it in two than it did to cook it. What sort of mindset decides We’ll give them half a fucking mushroom?
By the way, is there a factory somewhere in the world that makes stainless steel tea-pots especially designed to spill boiling hot tea in your lap and all over the table? Do they have some quality-control boodie checking to make sure they all overflow, rejecting the ones that work properly? Are they the same factories that make the self-spilling stainless steel milk jugs for sale to chip shops and pubs throughout Ireland?
What’s that about? Does anyone ever say, Jesus, maybe we should be putting out teapots that are going to boil the bollocks off our customers?
Give me a runny egg. Give me plenty of tea or coffee. Don’t give me cheap sausages made out of biscuits. Give me some marmalade for my toast when I’m finished and finally, please don’t give me salt and pepper in horrible little paper envelope things that I have to tear open, if that’s all right.
I’m sure there are loads of things that enrage people about the breakfast-you-buy. These are just a few of my personal pet peeves and no doubt I’ll think of a few more as we go along.