The rules of breakfast

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Get it right

There are lines you don’t cross with a man, and these are set in stone. Don’t ogle his wife, watch your manners around his mum and don’t ever, ever mess with his food.

And when it comes to playing with food, nothing is more dangerous than ruining a man’s breakfast; it just throws off his day – that’s 24 hours of subconsciously planning your demise. If you’re the manager of a hotel, and breakfast is a buffet, then it’s even worse – that’s a room full of people planning the aforementioned demise.

But I’ve sensibly channelled my anger into constructive criticism. So, without further delay, I present to you the three cornerstones of breakfast buffets; ignore them at your own peril.

Be honest! Trays full of old salmon don’t say, ‘Look at our wondrous variety,’ they say, ‘Here are yesterday’s leftovers.’ Stale bread? Not on my watch; and if you’re going to stick a ‘freshly baked’ sign next to it you’ll compound injury with insult. Smoked salmon doesn’t age well, nor does displaying it add a thing to breakfast. Cheese does age well, but not on yesterday’s plates: pile it up fresh or don’t pile it at all. Caviar? I don’t know who eats fish eggs in the morning but whoever does, doesn’t go for the Dhs10 variety. Ditch the pretence, and learn to cook some decent hen’s eggs instead.

And on that note, screen your cook! How difficult can it be to boil an egg? If a boiled egg is cracked, it gets soggy and watery, and we don’t like it. Again, with the fried eggs: use too much heat and they will burn (Physics 101), and omelettes with goodies inside them burn twice as badly. You know what my least favourite breakfast in the world is? A burnt one. Mini pizzas are not breakfast, not in any culture. If you want to put them in a breakfast buffet then at least bake them well. A leathery layer of brown cheese on top of frozen tomato sauce on tasteless, crumbling bread, does not a pizza make. In fact, it doesn’t make anything at all, except unhappy editors.

Keep everything clean. It’s next to godliness, and for good reason. Reusing morning coffee pots without rinsing them first is very bad form. See that little dribble of brown on the side? I do too, and I don’t like it. And while you’re there, could you please change the tablecloth between diners? I’m sure whoever sat here before me enjoyed their beans, but I’m not very keen on the details, which happen to be splattered all over my table. Replace the sheets, and clean them. Bleach them to the bone if you have to; the environment is far more forgiving than disgruntled journalists.

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