11:30 Friday 18 October 2013

No you can't have butter with that!

Written byRoss Boardman

When you stop over in a hotel there is usually the one meal you will try, breakfast. Piled up on the buffet counters are the classics of the hot plate, cereals, fruit and of course pastries.

Breakfast is supposed to be the meal of Kings, the heaviest meal of the day. As we progress through our waking hours we are supposed to eat less and less until there is a tiny sandwich at supper. Supposed eh?

In amongst those pastries there is probably going to be a croissant. As this is the heavy meal, it is not unfair to ask for butter with that? Next check the sneer of the waiter, because croissants are made with butter, you don’t need extra butter. Even the TV cooks will tell you this. But hang on a minute, it’s my breakfast. If I want butter with my croissant, I will get butter with the thing. It’s what I want. One beauty I saw the other day was a croissant stuffed with melted cheese and grilled bacon. Way to go my friend, that will head off the anti-butter brigade at the pass.

Food is a very emotive issue and I am sure I have more than enough opinions about it. Good luck telling a pregnant woman that chocolate is not an acceptable pizza topping. If you like something, go for it. Personal choice is the thing that creates original dishes and new menus. Fried chicken, waffles and maple syrup is a Southern US classic. Now that’s fried food and pudding on one plate, nothing wrong with that.

This is where the friction often starts when you try to define food. One man’s rare steak is another man’s blue. Seasoning, degrees of cooking and cultural influences can really change the flavour and experience of any dish. Because of this, it has to be down to communication between the diner and the cook. Unless it is a real classic like an omelette Arnold Bennett, then a recipe is open to interpretation.

I personally don’t like pepper sauce, I prefer the steak on its own. Cooked well with a gentle sear on the outside, with a simple pinch of salt and a twist of pepper, is perfect. If something is explained well then there is little misunderstanding. Sometimes an ingredient needs a little camouflage. Sometimes it performs well all by itself. On all occasions, it’s all about what the diner enjoys.

If we were to follow the logic to eat dinner like a King, where would the bottle of wine fit in? We are told not to drink on an empty stomach, so that’s dinner or supper out of the way. Suggest this at breakfast and you may get a better response about the butter on your croissant.

Ross Boardman is author of “101 Restaurant Secrets” and an award winning restaurateur.

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