Nov 4, 2009

What We Will Sacrifice For Cheap Eggs

You know how everyone has their thing that they're weird about when it comes to food? A close friend of mine revealed her true colours when she saw me using a french press wrong. (Her opinion. I maintain my position that you can't screw it up no matter how hard you try.) I used to work with this girl that would only eat chicken she prepared, and while I never witnessed it I heard it involved disposable gloves and a lot of bleach afterwards.

I know people that refuse to eat leftovers, are consistently outraged at the cost of fruit, believe red wine tastes better cold.

I have a few myself. Pancakes should be made from scratch. It's wrong to buy groceries at Walmart, especially meat and dairy. Wine must be drunk the day it's opened. (Day? I mean evening. The evening it's opened...)

But my big food thing is that breakfast should be cheap. It should be possible to walk into any respectable cafe and order two eggs, pork product, hash browns and toast for a few bucks. When I see this basic fare on the menu for six or seven, or sometimes even over ten dollars, I'm outraged. Silently and politely outraged.

I was thinking about this today while I was loitering in Bon's, being systematically ignored by all the staff. Bon's is a diner in Vancouver that I frequented regularly about eight years ago. It was a funky little place with cool movie posters and a jukebox, It was easily accessible by public transit. But the bestest selling feature was its $2.95 breakfast. Who cared if you had to wait forever to get a table. If their idea of busing was piling all of the dirty dishes on one big table in the center of the room. If you had to hunt down your own menus. And coffee. And waiter. If they lost your order. Got your eggs wrong. It was quirky and fun. My friends were there. And the price certainly fit into my student loans budget.

Bon's was the only place in Vancouver that sort of compared to Halifax, where I'd just moved from. Pardon me if I sound old and preachy, but in my day living in the big H, breakfast could be bought anywhere for no more than four dollars, AND it always included coffee. The places were clean, the service was great, the food hot and fast and delicious. This is how I remember it, and you will never convince me I'm wrong.

It was hard to let all of that go when I landed in Vancouver at the young and delicate age of 22. Bon's helped me get over my Halifax breakfast heartache. I've remembered it fondly over the years, wanting a morning reunion.

Angie and I have been talking about Bon's ever since she and Nathan decided to move to Vancouver. Today, we finally made it. We waited ten minutes for someone to clear one of the many dirty tables before we could sit down. After being ignored for another ten minutes Angie scrounged up some menus. Time ticked by, waiters walked back and forth in front of our table without ever looking down. All this time allowed me to really look around the place. To notice all of the grime on the walls, on the tables, on the napkin holders. The cakey, greasy dust on and around the coffee makers. The general ickyness of the decor and cleaning practices.

Finally our meager and annoying presence was acknowledged and an order was placed. The eggs were snotty, the potatoes bland, the toast over buttered. And no, on this coast the coffee is not included. Or refilled, apparently. We never did see our waiter again. Can't go wrong for $3, Angie said. Really?

This used to be fun. What's changed? Me? And if so, for the better or worse? At the age of 30 should I accept my desire for clean establishments with nice people that can get an egg order right as a sign of emotional maturity? Should I embrace my new self and allow her to grow and flourish and spend more money on breakfast?

Or am I changing into a different, and worse, person? Becoming jaded and critical? Is this my last chance to throw off the nets of pretense and  stuck-upery I'm caught in and resurrect my former, better, cheaper, self?

Do other people think about breakfast this much?


Matt said...

Hahaha--dicey topic for me. Jason sometimes brings home groceries from Walmart, where he works, and honestly, none of it is particularly objectionable.

We both prefer to shop for locally grown produce and we're extremely lucky to have a quality butcher shop down the street, but sometimes our busy schedules necessitate purchasing pancakes that come from a can (cancakes?).

Matt said...

Sarah, did you participate in the Vancouver Sun restaurant service survey? If not, it sounds like you should have!

Sarah said...

Oohh, that would have been fun!

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