A rather grand title for yet another recollection from last weeks trip to Ipswich, funny how one county change can give so much cause for consideration!
Three young men were discussing the way that they had tried to restart their days on New Year’s Day, by the sounds of the story all had entered the New Year on the traditional tsunami of alcohol, I heard but one of the debates as I followed* them along the road.
It would appear that poached eggs on toast with a glass of fizz was this particular young mans solution, which would have gone unremarked were it not for the ensuing debate. Between these three normal looking lads they concluded that this meal was the classic hangover cure beloved of crime writers and good restaurants. It was, they concluded, none other than Eggs Benedict the saviour of hungover gentlemen from the 40’s to the current day!
Now this is where the title originates, because like most of you I know that Eggs Benedict is in fact a lightly toasted and buttered English muffin, topped with ham, lightly poached egg and a healthy spoonful of fresh hollandaise sauce. That they do not fully understand the ingredients required to produce such an iconic meal is not of huge concern it will not destroy the ambition of a generation and cause social collapse, or will it?
You see I am aware of Eggs Benedict from novels read over many years, like breakfast at Tiffany’s it evokes some hidden aspiration to sit at a table at the Waldorf hotel overlooking Park Lane and consume my plate of this fine dish accompanied by a glass of 1971 Dom Pérignon and if i do this I will look out of that window with such a sense of achievement.
Will I ever do this? Perhaps not, it’s not on a list of burning ambitions or something that I feel I must do before I die. Why does it matter? It matters because as humans we need these ethereal dreams to drive us forward and, I guess, to reward our efforts. I will have the biggest grin when I sign the cheque in the Waldorf, not because I feel better than others or wealthier but because I will truly know that, even if briefly, I have crossed the tracks and entered a world that was never meant to include me, I have achieved something.
So return to ‘our man on the street’ where is his goal? Does he want to eat Eggs Benedict ** at the Waldorf? Hell no that’s just egg on toast! Does he want to experience the elegant yet powerful palate of the 71 Œnothèque***as its precise bubbles explode their generations of history on his tongue? Hell no £10 a bottle from Asda its all fizz!
Is any of this important? Well yes I think it is, our man on the street has lost ambition because modern availability, and to some degree ignorance, leads him to believe that he has experienced all the world has to offer, its all been brought to his table so what is there to aspire to and to dream of?
If you don’t like Eggs Benedict then look at the ‘three bird roast’ touted this year by that grand purveyor of palate anaesthesia ‘Iceland’, will anyone seek that dish out on a Scottish moor or a Bavarian mountain? Not if they have consumed this most unpalatable affair marketed at £10 they won’t!
I guess the point is that we don’t become richer for having greater availability, we become much much poorer because we are fed such poor similes but these seem enough to curtail our human drive to experience and improve, this is a loss which we feel as society.
For me, an avid reader, I know my Champagne, I know my breakfast, I know my hotels and restaurants. I may never have these experiences, they may disappoint, but I know that there will always be more aspirations and new experiences to work towards and only the real thing will count.
*followed in the sense of being behind them, I was not lurking in doorways trying to listen in
**I know that this does not need capitalising but hey it’s the best breakfast New York can create it deserves it!
***a title given to a vintage that has been retained past first maturity and has reached its second or third peak of maturity before release