If I haul myself out of bed on time in the morning, I’ll have breakfast in the café before heading off to work. Let’s call it a terrific perk of having sex with a chef. These days I’m eating some of Guido’s red berry and hazelnut granola. It might taste like gravel but apparently it’s one of the best selling healthy options on his breakfast menu.
Last Monday I found myself sharing a table with two wonderful seventy year old American tourists from Hackensack, New Jersey. They’re a married couple, called Belva and Cricket (you’ve got to just love those names haven’t you?) who are checked-in for seven nights around the corner at the Hilton London Bankside. There’s just one big problem. Cricket thinks the breakfast there stinks.
“D’you guys serve pancakes?” yelled Belva throwing open the café door last week. It almost came flying off at the hinges. She shrieked that question like someone asking if I knew how to start pumping CPR compressions or blow some air urgently for mouth to mouth resuscitation. I suppose there are times when only a pancake will do.
“Yes,” I said.
Of course I lied. Although I knew that pancakes aren’t a permanent fixture on the breakfast menu, I figured if somebody’s life depended on them then Guido wouldn’t mind rustling up a stack. And just maybe if they were lucky, drizzling on optional maple syrup.
Unfortunately that particular Monday morning it was super hectic in the kitchen. I found Guido sweating profusely over six simultaneous orders of French Toast, two buttered baps, and a pan of worryingly unresponsive porridge. When I told him about a further two unsolicited orders which involved whipping fresh pancake batter he shouted something very derogatory at me in Spanish. Trust me, in the cut and thrust of the culinary world, he’s no mister nice guy.
“I love a kid who makes his pancakes with buttermilk,” said Cricket pushing back an empty plate and unfurling the napkin from his collar. “And that crispy bacon on the side? Hell yeah.”
The next morning Cricket had pancakes with blueberries. The next morning he had pancakes with Nutella and a sprinkle of chopped almonds. This morning when I walked through the café Cricket was actually flipping his own on the griddle. If the two of them hadn’t been booked for a visit to Buckingham Palace this afternoon he could’ve helped with the lunch service.
“You and Guido,” said Belva sipping her coffee, “you two boys are havin’ sex, aren’t you?”
Whilst I do admire directness, this did make me almost choke to death on my super healthy granola. Which would certainly have been pretty ironic.
“I can always tell lovers,” whispered Belva. She drew me near. “When our daughter, Shirley, brought her girlfriend, Vera, home for the first time… I opened the door and I said straight off right there and then on the porch – you two girls are havin’ sex, aren’t you?” God only knows what poor Vera must thought at the time. I’m surprised she didn’t run a mile. It must be like having Dr Ruth as your mother-in-law.
Guido’s created a pancake which is going to be on the special’s board all next week. He’s named it the Hackenstack.
I just hope Cricket can fit one in before he has to fly home.