so that happened

Toast Seems to be The Hardest Word

I look at the brunch menu in my hand as if it is written in Sanskrit.

What is ‘endive’? 

Why ‘avocado bruschetta’ and not just regular bruschetta?

Why a ‘3-egg omelette’? Who needs three eggs in the morning? Isn’t that awfully inflexible? What happened to poached eggs and toast?

I flip the menu over and finally find what I was looking for; namely scrambled eggs on toast, goujons, french toast, and bacon butties. They are clustered together in a section marked disdainfully as only for ‘Under 12’s’.

Ridiculous, I think, flapping the menu in distress. Are omelettes now considered more mature than scrambled eggs? Does the way you like your eggs say something fundamental about you as a person? I have obviously missed the memo explaining that when you reach the age of 12 you have to put away childish things and scrambled eggs on toast.

I place the menu flat on the table as the waiter approaches and look up at his expressionless face.

“Hi! Could I order off the under 12’s menu please?”

He blinks slowly at me. His mouth gives the tiniest twitch, one corner of his mouth twisting ever so slightly downwards. I don’t know it yet, but this is actually the only bit of expression I will manage to elicit from him over the course of brunch.


The tone is so flat it’s hard to know how he feels about this lapse in protocol.

“Oh great!” I beam. His face stays stony. “Can I… err… Can I get the scrambled eggs on toast then please?”

His eyes flick down to the notepad in his hand.

“Scrambled eggs,” he intones. I wondered whether he is repeating it to himself or asking me to make sure it’s correct. I decide I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference either way. This man had clearly never heard of inflections.

“Yep!” I say, just to be clear. I point at the menu item. “Scrambled eggs on toast!”

He moves on with the order, and I sit back, happy to have avoided the fate of the adult omelette. Honestly. Nobody needs three eggs in a single meal. Especially not considering my cholesterol levels.

Fifteen minutes later, my scrambled eggs appear.

…Only my scrambled eggs appear.

My (at least) three-egg serving of scrambled eggs has somehow been wrangled into a circular form in the middle of my plate. It looks like a giant flan gone horribly wrong. An inedible amount of watercress has been strewn across the plate with reckless abandon.  I say a quick prayer for any under-12 who has ever been faced with this monstrous portion of scrambled egg.

There is no sign of toast.

I silently accept the scrambled egg cake, eyeing it warily. I feel like I have suddenly been entered in an all-the-eggs-you-can-eat competition. I am unprepared. I tentatively tear into the quivering yellow creation with my fork. Three bites in, I decide I cannot continue without toast to break up the monotony of all that egg. I make my way over to the waiter, who is across the room standing next to the bar.

“Hi!” I smile. He turns towards me. He does not return the smile. He looks neither surprised nor annoyed to see me there. His face simply does not move at all.

I forge ahead.

“Can I please get some toast?”

There is a brief pause as the words float through the air, enter his ears, and swim around in his mind. He digests them, and then his lids lift just enough for his eyes to find mine.


Again, question or statement? Hard to know. I hedge my bets.

“… Toast…?” I say hopefully.

He gives the smallest of nods and then walks stiffly away.

Five minutes later, as I am busy deconstructing the egg abnormality, he reemerges and approaches us with a wooden walk that might scream ‘I WOULD RATHER BE PICKING JAGGED SPLINTERS OUT FROM UNDER MY FINGERNAILS’ or else might just be his strangely inflexible natural gait. It really could be either. He bends slightly at the waist and puts down a plate containing two small circular slices of bread.

I stare at it, nonplussed.

“Thanks” I eventually mutter, more out of reflex than genuine gratitude. I am still staring at the bread. Our waiter receives my thanks without so much as a glimmer of acknowledgment, and immediately travels back to his spot beside the bar. His face – for a change – betrays nothing at all.

My mind ticks over as I butter the bread. I did ask for toast, I think to myself as my knife gouges the soft white crumb. Three times! Toast! Is toast an uncommon request now? Is this an unspoken rule like the adult omelettes? Am I that out of the loop? Is there some other way to ask for toast? Did he do it on purpose? Is he over there now, laughing at my futile attempts to get a regular, normal, single portion of scrambled eggs on toast?

I surreptitiously eye him up. He is standing stock still, staring at a light fixture, his face an impressive blank. No, I decide. This man is clearly not capable of such a stretch in emotional range.

Baffled, I eat my bread discs. I leave nothing but the watercress behind, and briefly wonder if it’s possible to overdose on scrambled eggs.

Then I pay and, because I’m a sucker, I tip him the standard 10%.









  • Marilyn Kriete

    Hilarious! And reminds me of all the times I’ve tipped hairstylists after they’ve ignored my simple requests (“Not too short, please!”) and sent me home to weep in shame.

    • Quinn

      That has definitely happened to me in the past! Why are we so bad at pointing out that it’s not what we wanted? I am actually incapable!

    • Quinn

      I’ll have to put it on a t-shirt and go in and order breakfast again. I think I felt like maybe he’d done his best. Not that his best was good enough, but WHAT IF IT REALLY WAS HIS BEST? Tragic. A tip for trying, I suppose.

    • Quinn

      The holy mortifying shame of asking to speak to the manager over TOAST though. No, no, I’d rather assume that he did his best, give the tip, and then stew about it for three days. Much better!


    • Quinn

      I googled it. I am no clearer. It is also sometimes called a chicory, apparently, and it looks like…. fennel? Like a lean lettuce? Weird-looking yoke!

    • Ronald van Middendorp

      It’s a sort of cabage kind of thing with dark green curly leaves. Don’t eat the viarity with the long sticks and tiny leaves, they make no sense. We (the Dutch) grow that shit easily and as kids – in general – we hate it. Although it depends on how it’s prepared. Only cooked it’s a bit of a bitter disaster, but there are some nice recipes.

      Raw, cut in little pieces, mixed with matched potatoes it’s a pretty OK dish.

      Fried shortly with some garlic, onions and seasalt as a sidedish with baked sweet potatoe and mayonaise… yep.

      The world is full of veggie surprises (and I’m not even considering the 18+ variations)…

      One should always go for the escarole endive …

    • Quinn

      My blood pressure is pretty low (and in terms of temper, my fuse is unnaturally long), but my cholesterol is…. I mean it is what it is. It’s the cholesterol of someone who enjoys cooking and baking with butter. What can I do?

      • Dangerspouse

        Take heart. As I understand it, it has now been pretty well established that dietary cholesterol intake has no bearing on a person’s level of blood cholesterol. You get what you get despite what you put into yourself, not because.

        I play a doctor on the internet, and I approve this message.

    • Quinn

      I do not know what Cracker Barrel is and why it serves biscuits and gravy together but I’M UP FOR AN ADVENTURE! And toast.

      • bexoxo

        Fella had trouble with this one too so I will intervene… our biscuits are bread rolls, not cookie like, and our gravy (for this dish at least) is typically served with sausage in it. It’s one of my all time favorite dishes. And I second the notion that you need to get to a Cracker Barrel pronto. Heaven on earth! In fact, there’s one right down the road from me. You should just come for a visit. 🙂

  • pyjamasandcrumpets

    Breakfast is definitely going downhill, I ordered a Full English a while ago in this place on the beach in Portsmouth. It was awful. I got one piece of streaky bacon that you could break your teeth on, cold toast, one egg and so on. It cost me a fortune and there was barely anything there. I’m not going to well reviewed cafes for breakfast anymore I far prefer a greasy spoon… Mostly because if I’m going to have a proper breakfast out I want food…

    • Quinn

      That is so disappointing… Exactly. I want what I want. And what I want isn’t even that complicated! I’d understand if I was asking for something outlandish but can you even get any more basic than toast?

  • the incurable dreamer

    Yesterday, when I read this, I was with a friend, so I didn’t have a chance to comment. But, I had to make sure I came back this morning to tell you how ridiculously talented you are and how much I loved this post. You are fucking hilarious, and now I want to go out for toast just to see if I will get served bread discs. What the almighty hell was that about? HA! With your descriptions, I felt like I was looking directly at that server myself. Cannot wait to read more of your blog, you are incredible!!

  • SingleGuySays

    Avocados and brunch have ruined breakfasts for me. Though I’ll tell you what hasn’t, is that there’s a place near mine that serves ten egg omelets. It’s great, because you can eat it, and hate yourself for the whole day and never have to stop for another meal.

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