While on vacation, nothing compares to a breakfast buffet to get your day up and running. But have you noticed how hit and miss the all-you-can-eat buffet can be? There’s no middle ground- its either fantastic or spew worthy.
At its best it has no equal. This includes a specialised chef/omelette man, whipping up omelettes on demand like a master. Wearing his chef’s hat, he’ll make nothing but fresh omelettes for the four hours the buffet is open. You will find him at the end of a long queue furiously pouring whisked eggs onto a piping hot pan, mixing in all the ham, cheese, chives and extras your heart desires. It is fresh, delicious and, when combined with a complimentary coffee, leaves a feeling of contentment not unlike a winning bet at the races. As well as this egg magician, the remaining selections are spot on; freshly cooked bacon, soft bread, a diverse selection of fruit and even freshly squeezed juice.
However, the above is only a best case scenario. Many things can turn your happy little morning routine into the breakfast from hell. Too many times have I sprinted downstairs from my room and been witness to the horrors of buffet neglect.
Allow me to run through what you should expect when things go bad:
1. All buffets seem to finish around 10 a.m. so breakfast gets in the way of your holiday sleep in. Getting showered and dressed is also a requirement due to the restaurant being a public space, bound by annoying social etiquettes such as hygiene and dress codes. Crankily, you’ll grab a plate and join the queue. While you attempt to find something worth lining your stomach with, you slowly trudge along in line robotically with the other hotel guests.
2. Arriving at the fruit section it’s clear that this is the last of the fruit the hotel has to offer, usually either bruised or not yet ripe. If it has already been diced up ‘for your convenience’, it’s probably wallowing in a messy, stagnant puddle of sticky juice, presumably since the day before. You’ll decide to leave this station in search of greener pastures.
3. Next stop is the cereal bar. Confusion still reigns as to why they call it a ‘bar’. It should be called the ‘boring, crushed wheat section’. All that’s available here are wheat bricks, corn flakes or rice bubbles. This seems fine but who in the holy hell wants to eat cereal on a tropical holiday? Besides, you probably only picked up a plate didn’t you. If you go back for a bowl, you will lose your place in line and have to walk past the fruit again.
4. Your eyes will light up a little as you reach the egg and bacon section. That light will fade away like a torch losing battery life the moment you lock eyes on the scrambled eggs. They will be congealed and stuck together like a cake in a tin, while they sit in a questionable, yellow fluid. The bacon is cold and rubberised, like a prop from a movie warehouse. As you gnaw on a piece, the realisation hits you that it is so hard that you need to be sitting down to actually eat it and when you drop it on your plate, it makes a noise like a rock into a steel bucket. It’s still half covered in saliva from when you sucked on it, but that’s ok; it might help soften it up. The little chicken sausages look like they have been there since last week and the baked beans have an unnatural orange hue to them that no naturally occurring food source should ever have.
5. Toast can’t go wrong can it? You’ll throw some overly sweet bread into an industrial sized toaster, the kind with a conveyer belt that moves the bread along slowly until it flips off the end and slides back to you. Problem is that it only ends up lukewarm and barely toasted at all. If you risk throwing it back through the toaster again in so it’s properly cooked, odds are it’ll end up coming back charred. The butter will be located in a bowl of ice cubes, as all good dairy products usually are. Again, it’s in a puddle of water (what’s with all the f**king excess fluid?) and stuck together. It’s also harder than the rubber bacon already on your plate. The condiments are in bowls that you have to scoop on with a spoon or risk holding up the line. Carefully, you drizzle honey onto the side of you plate until you resign yourself to the fact that jam is the only spread that will be easy enough to spread without making a mess.
6. You speed past the curry section. It’s on offer to tempt those from Asia and sub-continent, although even the target market still wont touch the stuff. Curry is not a breakfast food. Ever.
7. At the end of this death march, you sit down and look forlornly at your plate. The toast is mashed from trying to spread rock butter over it, the bacon tastes like honey, the chicken sausages bounce like a science project and the fruit is like soft mush with no discernable flavour at all. The pancakes you found are small and cold but the only edible things you could find.
I’ll admit, it’s unfair for me to say that all buffet breakfasts are the same at each hotel. I’ve had my fair share of pleasant morning meals. The staff at every hotel restaurant work exceptionally hard to provide top quality food. You can see it in the way they smile when they greet you at the door, so eager are they to please and make people happy. You cannot begrudge them that. This fact is unwavering.
But we humans are fickle creatures. We will always find something we are unhappy with. That means there are no points for trying when it comes to our food; something everyone has a passionate opinion about.
The scary thing is this though; no matter how bad it gets, everyone still goes back for seconds.
Wayward Tip: always choose the fresh stuff. It can be fairly easy to sigh and eat the closest food on the table, but if you wait for the freshly cooked food, you might almost feel energised by the time you leave for your first activity of the day. Just in case, pack a tube of Pringles.