Nothing illustrates the British disdain for Europe like the concept of Continental Breakfast. I have been staying at a mid-ranking London hotel for the past week – just about expensive enough to avoid the bed bugs, but not expensive enough to get your shoes polished – where guests are divided into two classes, depending on their budget: those having English Breakfast (middle class) and those having Continental Breakfast (the rest). Naturally, no self-respecting upper-class person would ever dream of slumming it with the rest of us in a place where breakfast is served as a buffet. But I digress.
The English Breakfast variety consists of fried bacon, sausages and eggs (boiled, fried or scrambled), hash browns, tomatoes, beans and toast (no mushrooms, alas) as well as porridge, while the Continental variety consists of a bland cereal selection, rubbery bread rolls, the likes of which have never been seen on the Continent, and toast. In an attempt at mixing things up socially, both varieties are served with tea or coffee and a sugary orange liquid offered as juice.
If the Continental breakfast is anything to go by, I am not surprised a majority (however small) of the British electorate voted to get out of the EU. Alas, the vote, like the breakfast, was based on a misconception on what Europe is like: bland, unpalatable and foreign.
Had the British public not been deceived by a political elite intent on indulging on the delights of an international cuisine without the rabble getting a look in, they would have known that there is much more to it: a variety of freshly baked crusty breads, pastries, jams and preserves, cold cuts and cheeses, mueslis, yoghurts, fruit and freshly squeezed orange juice galore.
None of these delights are particularly foreign either. They could and should be available on either side of the Channel, if only the British government did not spoil the fun. In the meantime it is safer for the political class to demonise everything European and make it look like all Britain is leaving behind is a rubbery bread roll.