Russian Breakfast

Sunday, May 18 2003

We’ve been staying at a hotel for the past couple of weeks while we wait to move into a proper English house. Every morning I go to the hotel restaurant and have a traditional English breakfast. Despite the lack of taste it acts as a sort of food insurance policy – if I simply can’t stomach any of the foods placed before me for the rest of the day, at least I had that big breakfast.

Usually the restaurant is pretty empty. As I walk in, normally, I get a greeting from an ultra polite waiter who I can’t tell if he’s nervous or if its simply some kind of act. Either way, this morning I had no greeting. The place was packed. All fifteen tables were taken except for one in the center of the room. It was hot a stuffy, as the people who occupied it were all huge men.

I take the one seat (not my normal number 15 by the sun filled door to the garden) and wait for my waiter (oh the irony). While waiting, I realize that every 2.5 meter tall man in that room is Russian, and they are all talking very furiously. I find myself amused by this, because I know this is a special moment.

I’m tittering away steeped in my own asmusement for a few minutes when suddenly one of the biggest of the Russians to my right offers a quite “Shhh”. The room falls deadly silent. It remains silent while the waiter brings me my food. It remains silent while I eat my beans. It remains silent the entire time I’m there, except for one final phrase uttered in a commanding but thick Russian accent:

“Please, can I have four sandwiches with bread, ham, cheese, and moooostard please.”

The room explodes into laughter. I have yet to figure out what to make of that.