Five Hundred Words a Day: Nourish

Imagine a bar in a restaurant a big, luxury, American hotel. On that bar is every possible food it’s conceivable to eat for breakfast, and you’re determined to do so. There’s a dedicated section for baked goods, from muffins and waffles to sourdough toast and rye bread. There’s French toast and Melba toast and toasted crumpets, croissants and doughnuts and Danish pastries, and even baklava. Slide your plate along and the next stop is fruit; stewed prunes and plums, little jewels of dried cranberries and raisins, then platters of honeydew, watermelon, papaya, pineapple, dragonfruit and guava. There’s pedestrian slices of apples and pears, and five different varieties of grape. Within spooning distance and sort of bundled into a jumble sale section are the dairy products: Greek yoghurt, fromage frais, single cream, thick milk, a rogue non-dairy liquid, and the beginnings of the continental area. Wafers of pale yellow Swiss cheese, strips of ham, taut little sausages and possibly even gherkins crowd the space, with pots of jam and honey and – is that Marmite? – chocolate spread and a variety of substances which don’t seem to belong on the same plate as cheese and cured meats, surely. There are cereals, too; a serious cereal station (which is very difficult to say with your mouth full) from the decadent sugar-coated-rainbow-coloured-kid-friendly eyesore to something more severe, more ascetic, more – adult. Grape Nuts, probably, or at least some All Bran. But all this drifts into insignificance when presented with the Hot ‘n’ Savoury counter. There is kedgeree. There are kippers. There are wobbly little poached eggs accompanied by a jug of hollandaise. There is an oozing scrapheap of bacon, glistening and crisping and spitting fat. There are sausages, snugged up next to each other all herby-like. There are omelettes, scrambled eggs, fried eggs sunny side up and fried eggs over easy and frittata and hard boiled and soft boiled and even a couple of raw eggs for those with a hangover. Vats of beans steam next to piles of mushrooms, blood-red tomatoes, stacks of fried potatoes, and heavy, light-bending slices of black pudding. Someone, somewhere, is asking for grapefruit, but you can’t hear them: you’re too busy wondering what grits actually are and whether you can have gravy for breakfast and in exactly what order should you traverse this majestic highway of foodstuffs? You haven’t even got to the beverages bit, juices chilled on ice or teabags waiting, patiently, tucked in wooden boxes or coffee beans holding steady before the rumbling, grinding machine bites into them. You haven’t even got to that smell yet, that smell of the day’s first inhalation of espresso or the scent of Tetleys, homesickness encapsulated, or that eye-watering wash of acid orange round your newly-minty mouth. You haven’t yet got to the chink of a white cup or the clatter of a dropped knife, to the soft outbreath of an unfolded linen napkin, to the sound of steady, contented chewing as you make your way through this unbelievable breakfast.

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