Friday, 24 October 2008

Eggs and sausage and a side of toast- Part 1.

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The clamour and steam, the shouting of orders and the whooshhhh! of coffee machines, the rattle and kerching of cash registers and the sweet teared displays of wicked cakes. In cafes around the world there is a buzz, a 'value', a blur of colour and movement. We all have our favourite haunts, places that may even no longer exist, or that we may never revisit for whatever reason. Here are a few that I remember. Nancy's cafe was a small flint cottage in the north Norfolk village of Cley, now long since gone, but with it's importance at the heart of Britain's birding community set in stone. It was run out of a small dining room and orders were taken through one of those old service hatches, standing on a pedestal in the corner of the room was a red telephone that would ring almost constantly. However, the incoming calls were never for the owners, only for the customers. In fact it didn't matter which one, so long as they had the 'gen'. In the days before rare bird information could be accessed through the use of pagers and the world wide web, this little cafe was the hub through which all the news of UK bird sightings were logged. During the 1970's and 80's the owners of Nancy's ran an open door policy, offering up a cheap and hearty fare of beans and eggs on toast, burgers, bread puddings, and large pots of tea all round. Telescopes on tripods crowded by the front door, and when the cafe was busy, a line of the cold and hungry trailed down the hallway. Unfortunately I only got to visit a couple of times shortly before it closed its doors for good in 1998, but to this day one of my favourite dishes is a basic poached egg on toast with a mug of tea. As a little extra to this post I have included a couple of cafe related links. The first is a children's picture book by Francesca Simon, called 'The cafe at the edge of the moon'. I used to read this to my kids, it's about a little girl who is always in trouble with her parents, so she drives to the cafe on the moon where she can get away with all sorts of bad table manners! The other inspired offering is the Tom Waits track 'Eggs and sausage', from the wonderful 'Nighthawks at the diner' album.

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