One of the unexpected joys of taking time out to travel is having time for breakfast. Breakfast can be my favourite meal of the day and I have fond memories of slow Sundays when my mum would make French toast and bacon with cinnamon sugar. As I got older Sunday brunch of poached eggs and smoked salmon with the papers became a treat – and one of the rare times when I would spend more than five minutes preparing a meal. However, aside from these occasional days, breakfast normally consisted of coffee and cigarettes – later I replaced the cigarettes with pain au chocolate or a bacon butty – not necessarily an improvement – either way if there was any breakfast it was rapid and pushed into my mouth whilst my eyes scanned emails and twitter.
Now, as a jobless layabout I have the luxury of enjoying a leisurely breakfast. There is something wonderful about taking time for breakfast – letting the morning unfold itself and sloughing off sleep in increments. Like late at night, mornings are often when thoughts are most fluid and form a wellspring of fresh ideas before the practical pressure of dealing with daytime decisions clouds and crowds them.
Staying in hotels is an advantage for a good breakfast – particularly the buffet. The Americans are masters at the breakfast buffet. As with everything in the US there is a surplus of choice with piles of fruit, pots of hot dishes and, in one place I stayed, a dedicated egg chef. The buffet is the shock and awe version of a good breakfast. You need to take your time just to cover all the options and avoid burnout.
The downside of buffets are the crowds. As everyone is in the same semi-awake state, often crippled by jet lag and confused about where they are the result is a zombie style conga as people pass each food station staring blankly trying to decide from the myriad of choices on offer. Sometimes I couldn’t handle it and just grabbed a banana and slunk back to my seat to eat it sulkily until signs of life returned. The other problem with the buffet breakfast is that it tends to be in larger hotels with cavernous dining areas twelve floors from your room. I’ve not seen any signs but it’s usually polite to wear pants and a top at least when jostling for toast.
The joy of breakfast in your home is all rules are your rules. Breakfast in bed, easy. Breakfast in the buff no problem – just go steady when frying. No queues no dress codes no hassle.
The downside of home made breakfasts is you have to be chef, waiter and chief bottle washer combined. Any enjoyment of your eggs is tempered by the knowledge you have to clean up all the mess. You also have to plan days in advance to avoid a cold trip to the shop which ruins the magic of it all. Unless of course you’re the kind of person who can make croissants from nothing – which I’m not.
In Jodhpur we had the perfect option: someone to cook and clean and our own private table on a garden terrace surrounded by palm trees and birdsong.
The place we were staying was a small b&b with just 3 rooms so there was no mega buffet – instead we had fresh pineapple, hot toast and gingery chai – with occasional guest appearances by omelettes or spicy kacholis.
Being woken by birdsong through the open window, a tumble down the stone staircase from your room to the sunlit courtyard and a fresh cold mango juice waiting for you is a pretty damned civilised way to start the day.
Spending an hour drinking coffee and planning your day sightseeing is a perfect antidote to any work withdrawals or stresses.
Sunshine and location help of course – and the last few days have been especially decadent – but having time to start the day with a proper breakfast is definitely something I would like to continue back in the real world.
In the mean time I’m going to savour my mornings as much as I can …and maybe just have one more cup of tea…
Note: Out of politeness to the phenomenally hardworking staff who served us I have been wearing pants for all our breakfasts so far.