Travelling around Europe brings with it a host of culinary quirks, with breakfast being particularly intriguing.
The French, for example, simply do not do bacon. Jambon (ham) is no problem, but don’t be surprised if this comes in the form of deli-style cured meat.
Egg fans will be pleased that omelettes are more often served at lunch, rather than breakfast. Plain omelettes are the go-to, with extra toppings sometimes served on the side. Fine.
Breakfast in Provence (that image up top is from the area – not bad) is usually a simple affair. A baguette with cream cheese (I tend to add Marmite) or a croissant is standard. You cannot compare their baking to anywhere else in the world – and to detail exactly what it is about their baking is close to impossible.
Their range of flour alone makes it impossible to recreate here in South Africa.
The crunch. The consistency. The taste. It’s a selfish journey from start to finish. Lunch in Provence isn’t too shabby, either.
With brekkie, a Café Creme on the side (flat white) or a Noisette (cortado) is commonplace, but don’t expect fireworks. To generalise, the French don’t know how to make a coffee. A few steps across the border to Italy – where we were in Portofino – is a completely different situation.
Sorry, this is Portofino, for some perspective:
I don’t go to Portofino without a visit to Taverna del Marinaio, to have their anchovies on toast. Use that information wisely – either you travel specifically for specific things like this, or we can stick to the more general, everyday stuff.
We must, though, talk about coffee.
There is surely not a more coffee-obsessed nation than the Italians. Roadside gas stations (similar to the Engen 1-Stop) have ‘standing only’ bar counters serving a steady stream of espressos. You walk up, down it, pay and leave.
Even our beach shop selling blow-up water toys had a Nespresso machine – selling shots to Italians needing one more fix. I tried one – it wasn’t Importers Coffee, but was damn good nonetheless.
But with every gain, there is a loss. The coffee improves in Italy – sure – but guess what? Yup, the croissants suck.
Ideally, you’d want to live on the Italy / France border, so you could buy your croissant in France and your coffee in Italy.
But in reality (i.e. back home in SA) I should advise you that Giovanni’s sells actual French baguettes. I don’t know how they do it – maybe they use pre-mix from France – but I don’t know anybody else doing it.
On the coffee side – that’s easy – the oldest coffee roasters in the Western Cape have been at it for a lot longer than the pretenders out there.
Enjoy the staycation 😉
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