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McFamished

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This scourge managed to invade Australia last century, then multiply on a scale only previously seen with the rabbits, prickly pear and cane toads which had preceded it.

We now have a plague of calf-scour-yellow arches.

Good friends introduced me to this escapee from America 20 years ago.  Despite their error of judgment they remain friends.
The quality of companionship on that day was five-star, whilst that of the food was kennel.
I vowed to never again allow such garbage to foul my perfectly pristine peristaltic processes.

Principles, even mine it would seem, can be compromised by hunger and desperation.

During my recent sojourn in Brisbane to bestow upon baby GOG some of the grandfatherly bonhomie and beaming conviviality for which I have become renowned, the only conveniently located take-away food establishment open for breakfast before the 7 am hospital appointment time was the House of McYuk.

Before entering, I paused and thought for a moment about the superior nutritional benefits which might accrue from ratting through yesterday’s left-overs in the KFC bins next door, but instead opted for something warmer and marginally less fetid and congealed.

Top of the breakfast menu I observed was a bacon and egg muffin thingy.  (I’m attempting to avoid legal ramifications here)
My stomach and salivary glands spontaneously went into overdrive secreting gallons of digestive juices in preparation for receiving the item illustrated in glorious spotlit panoramic technicolor on the four-foot-square wall poster.

Bacon and egg muffin thingy

This was obviously going to be a meal of sufficient size and calorific value to fuel an overweight worm-infested Sherpa laden down with oxygen bottles all the way up the final 10,000 feet to the summit of Mount Everest.

I briefly gave consideration to stealing a neighbouring resident’s wheelbarrow from his back yard in order to cart this gastronomic monstrosity back to my motel, then hiring a crane to hoist it up to the third-floor balcony before somehow squeezing it through the doorway to my room using a system of rollers and a crowbar.

The product was made even more enticing by the promise of “freshly cracked eggs”.

Now I just happen to be an enthusiastic disciple of the Freshly Cracked Eggs Movement.
No antique-cracked eggs for me. You may well prefer the added crunchiness, chewy embryonic texture and subtle salmonella taste of  more mature cracked eggs, but all-in-all I remain an admirer of the “freshly cracked” variety. Call me pernickety.

As it turned out I never did have to go and look for a wheelbarrow.

After taking two little nibbles I felt sorry for the starving anorexic-looking cricket who had spent all night in room 309 with me unsuccessfully attempting to gnaw her way into a sachet of raw sugar, so I gave the remainder to her.

She gulped it down in a single mandibular mouthful, then hopped up into my shirt pocket after which we wandered back across the road to the KFC bins in search of a proper-sized breakfast.

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Picnic time

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There is an old Hungarian saying which goes like this;
"Before you have a chance to look around, the picnic is over."

At my picnic, the food has already been served and consumed. The leftovers, spills, and crumbs cleaned up, and I have settled with my back against an old tree, glass of port in hand, to savour the memory of roads travelled, and to simply enjoy "being" in the space that surrounds me.

As I look around my world I find constant reminders that, when it comes to happiness, it is certainly a matter of "different strokes for different folks."

I have previously provided a glowing report of my favourite traditional old-fashioned Aussie breakfast joint in Cairns. 
A place where, once a week, Mrs GOF and I pause in our work travels at 5 am to enjoy food and conviviality.

Each time we visit, there is the same group of taxi drivers also refuelling after their night shift.  Among them, one looks like Clive James. Another Keith Richards. And then there's Steve Martin. They are all somewhere around my age, and, to phrase it politely, all very large gentlemen.  They chain smoke while enjoying large helpings of greasy bacon and eggs washed down with bottomless cups of coffee.  I presume they are in attendance most days of the week.
Some of their conversation involves sharing graphic updates of their current health problems, ailments, and treatments.

I choose to write about them because this group of men, regardless of the topic of conversation, exude happiness in bucketloads.  Their laughter and good humour infects all patrons within earshot.  They are content in their own skins, and find comfort, companionship and cameraderie with their contemporaries by sharing a common gender and occupation.

Perhaps in a way I envy them, yet I know their lifestyle is not for me.  I derive equal happiness and contentment from "aloneness" and my own company and solitary occupation.

So…..long live my taxi driver "friends".
You have each, unknowingly, contributed in a small way to my wonderful picnic.

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Breakfast with character

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I am not yet into yearning much for things of the past.  For me, "the good old days" are here, right now, doing what I am doing.   Occasionally however, it is still possible to find little reminders of times past which fill me with nostalgic warmth.
GOF, being the romantic old coot that he is, takes Mrs GOF out to dine a couple of times a month…..he takes her to breakfast!

Cairns is a thriving tourist city in tropical Australia, with lots of steel, concrete and glass highrise, and ample signage in Japanese to direct any stray Oriental tourist back to the Japanese owned business strip, and away from anything remotely Australiana.  It also has the usual proliferation of multinational takeaway food franchises.

Nestled amongst all this modernism is a nondescript small brick building with its function being displayed in peeling paint.

  "Breakfast".
 
It is more easily identified by the assemblage of taxi cabs parked outside…..no finer accolade can be given to an eating establishment, than the endorsement of a taxi driver.   It has been thus for the 20 years I have known both it, and its proprietor, who operates the breakfast kitchen as a family business.
He is a simple man.  I wish to imply the highest compliment with that statement.  Simple country folk the world over, display characteristics that I often wish I could fully emulate.  They find happiness in simplicity, are honest, hardworking and have a huge generosity of spirit.  They rarely find the need to do any poncy navel-gazing, and they certainly would not bother to become involved in time wasting arty-farty nonsense like blogging.

"Breakfast"  is, by design, a one roomed establishment, which enables him to conduct conversations with customers whilst he is cooking.   There is frequent use of colourful descriptive adjectives which add an element of Australian bush tradition to the ambience, although at times it probably warrants a language warning outside the shop.
The menu, primarily fried foods, is definitely not good for my arteries or my general homeostasis, but I figure that my body will probably forgive me if I eat plenty of fruit and vegetables during the following couple of weeks.

"Breakfast" does not include foreign corruptive influences.  There are no plastic plates or cutlery.  Its all real.  The cups have long ago lost their saucers, or indeed maybe never had them in the first place, and the patterns don't match those of the plates…….but who cares?
An eclectic assortment of used jars contain sugar.  No nonsensical teaspoon size saches which clog up with tropical humidity.
There is no  "would you like fries with that", or  "hash browns" or "ketchup,"  nor the requirement when ordering to give your first name to put into the computer.   Your order is handwritten in his patented shorthand, on a small scrap of paper torn off a larger sheet, and neatly tucked behind an egg on the sideboard.  He knows who you are, where you go and sit,  regular customer or newcomer, because he cares.  He cares about providing good food, excellent value for money, and a thoroughly pleasant atmosphere in which to enjoy it.
And when you pay him, he rings it up on an old fashioned 1950's style cash register with a hand crank on the side of it.

He smiles.  You smile, and you thank him,….. because you have just spent a pleasant half-hour of your life savouring delicious food and an increasingly rare Australian cultural experience. 
You have come to an understanding that this man uses the finest ingredients in the world…..and some of them have absolutely nothing to do with the cooking.

Which reminds me, whilst we are on a little nostalgic tour of fine dining, I find myself transported back 50 years to the Log Cabin Restaurant situated near Mount Macedon in Victoria.  It was run by a large and jovial Dutchman, and was sadly burned down in bushfires.
As children we were intrigued by the small card present on each table.  It read;  (very approximately, for this is from a diminishing memory)

Hesesto pands pen daf rien dl yho urinh arml essmir than dfu nle
tfri ends hipr eign bej ustand kin dan devils peak of no ne.

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