Sunday, 16 August 2009

Just a latte, please

Guess what? Tonight, husband is watching yet another Steven Seagal movie- "Hard to kill". I have just glanced up and SS was snogging his wife- that was truly repulsive.

This posting is a bit of a rant. I got annoyed this morning.

I have been having a lovely weekend. In fact, looking at my weekend, one might confuse me with someone who actually has a social life. Ha and ha again. I only have a bleak shadow of the social life I used to have back in Baku.

Anyway. So I was out on Friday night at the druggie’s place and that was (understandably) fun. She also invited the Kazakh girl (the demons were on holiday I guess) and we had a good girlie time, with rude talks about things some men would get very upset girls actually do discuss. And yes, it does matter.

We were also out on Saturday night at our friends' place where we got treated to a proper Lebanese dinner. And I was invited to lunch at my Azeri girlfriend’s place today. And I went out for a drink tonight- for my local friend’s birthday. What a weekend! Even I would be contented.

But yet, something annoying just had to happen. Something that reminded me what I dislike about this country.

I woke up nice and late on Saturday morning. I had a child’s birthday party to attend at 1pm and needed to grab some food before that. So, when husband suggested a coffee in a local café, I thought “Oh, great. I could have some scrambled eggs and smoked salmon”: my favorite late breakfast on a weekend.

So I want to know-Is that too much to ask for?

Apparently so.

I was too late. In our village, they stop serving breakfast at 11. I was there at 11:15. They would not give me my scrambled eggs.

Tell me,- I said to husband- It is a weekend! Why should they stop serving breakfast so early? On a Saturday morning, shouldn’t people be allowed to have a relaxed lazy brunch?

My most vivid memory of New York is being able to go out any time I wanted and eat anything I wanted- whatever time it was. When, after hours of partying, my Red Haired girlfriend suggested we had a cream cheese bagel at 3am, I thought she had probably had too much to drink and was hallucinating. But we walked to the little bagel shop we used to buy breakfast from, and surely enough, the same guy served us the exact same bagels. Just as fresh, just as delicious. Whether it was at 3 or 11am.

That’s what I hate about the UK. You can’t have a drink after 11pm or go shopping after 7pm-because most of the places close.

-Could I not have a scrambled egg for lunch then?- I asked the young guy at the counter.
-No, sorry- he replied- But I can offer you a jacket potato.

I wanted to tell him where he could shove that jacket potato, but instead, I said:
“Just a latte then, please” and smiled politely.


  1. It probably has nothing to do with U.K. or U.S. but rather with a big city versus a suburb. It's the same here in the U.S. New York is unique in that sense but restaurants in smaller towns close at 6pm on Sundays and do not serve breakfast after certain hours. I lived in NY and I lived in the middle of nowhere in the States, so I had a chance to compare.

  2. Marianna,

    Ha. Well, that would make sense. But not in the UK. In London mostly all shops, even the Oxford street ones, close at 7 during the week. They do a late night shopping, normally on Thursday night and that means, say till 8.

    In Singapore, we sat in a shopping mall at 10pm eating ice-cream. Crowds of people were walking around, buying stuff...night life! But not in London. London pubs and bars
    (except for the night clubs, which are mostly for 18 yr olds) close at 11. :)))

  3. @Marianna

    Not sure what small town you are talking about but the one that I am from in South Louisiana most proper restaurants are open to at least 2200 on Sundays and many are open until midnight. Most are also open on the major holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year) with a special holiday menu. Many of the short-order/fast food places are open 24/7/365. Probably regional differences.


    Smoked salmon and scrambled eggs <> bagels w/ cream cheese. The former seems to be more of a proper restaurant type meal while the latter falls into the fast food category so maybe a little leeway is due although it seems to me that they should have caught on to the concept of "brunch" by now, especially on the weekends or at the very least, Sundays.

    I am a bit surprised by all this however. I thought that they had changed all the closing times over there since the last time I've been ('98). As much as I loved London, the operating hours of most businesses were the most aggravating thing. And they are worse in Germany if you can believe that.

    Whenever I would ask someone why the hours were what they were, the pat answer would be "We're not organised that way" or some such. One of my favorite English sayings one other being "can't be asked."

  4. Isn't it annoying. I always need things "out of hours". Whether it's food on sunday just after 5 or lunch after 3 (most places stop serving food at 3). On Sunday i needed a present for midday, but everything is shut until 11! So i feel your pain podruzka.xx

  5. How dare they. That is annoying.
    I also noticed this difference between US and Western Europe. Here is US everything is for the Customer, in Europe I’m not sure sometimes who’s the boss. I like being a Customer. There is nothing wrong with expecting a little customer service for your money.

  6. I threw a fit in St. Petersburg because no cafes seemed to open before 8. I was train lagged and awake. I needed coffee. My boyfriend said I was acting like a New Yorker.

  7. @ Fab Cook: I think it has something to do with this country's labor laws. They are very over-protective. You can't work too hard or long hours.

    @ Shannon,
    Well, it is rare to have a cafe open before 8 here too. :) Near my work the only coffee I can buy before 8 is from the Starbucks! :)

  8. In Peru, most stores are open from 11 am to 10 pm. And cafés and similar are open until midnight or more on weekends. Some municipal regulations had to be established in some Limean districts in order to reduce costumer service hours, because the neighbors couldn´t get decent rest.
    As for breakfasts, you can find many places open from 7 am.

  9. I agree with Marianna.

    As for Singapore, I stayed there for a while and it's because of the climate. Shops mostly open at 10-11am and close at 22. And food has such a bigger stance in society than in the West, therefore you can get almost anything all of the time.

    And at last.. I like your husband! :P I also love Steven seagal movies, hehe. You shouldn't take them seriously, they are pure entertainment. :)

  10. I can sort of relate to this. I've had an experience in the southern part of the US where I wanted breakfast but was 20 minutes 'too late'. I wound up telling off the cashier and then leaving and eating elsewhere. There are a few places in the town I was in that would serve breakfast all day, like Denny's, though it's not that good. But I really wanted eggs, like you did.

    I do miss living in New York City. You're right. You can go out anytime to get something there. In Singapore, everything shuts down at 9pm on weekdays and 10pm on weekends. At least there are hawker centers here, but now that you mention it, I don't recall there being many diner-style restaurants, at all. Can't even remember the last time I had an omelette.

  11. Marianna, I live in the middle of nowhere and our stores are open till 10.p.m. at least. And for late brekfasts we have brunch till 1 p.m. And if you came later than that - you still can get whatever you want! Even more! I ordered once something that turned out to be diffierent than I thought it would be and they changed my order for me for free, just to make me happy! Here in the US! HEE HAW!

  12. That reminds me of Israel where I lived for a few years. Shabbat is a law strictly observed and imposed on all types of businesses, so you can find no business open from Fri sunset till Sunday. And on work days all the shops would close at the latest 6-7 pm, but the Malls would be open until 9, and till probably midnight on week-end. The funny thing was that on Saturday (Shabbat) Malls would actually open at 9pm and still have a lot of customers as people get desparate and want to do shopping and have fun on a week-end. The other thing I found interesting in Israel was that most people stay up late and they don't put kids to bed till 11pm or midnight, so whenevert I went to the mall in the late evening, it was full of families with small kids.
    As for your order of a "latte" I remember a funny story my brother-in-law shared; when he was vacationing in Italy, he happened to order a latte, and waiter asked whether he heard it right to which the guy repeated that, yes, just a latte, please. Apparently Latte means milk in Italian and he should have asked for a Cafe latte, so he was served a cup of warm milk :-) I guess that could happen only in Italy.

  13. Ptichkin--I am happy to hear that. I never said service was bad where I lived, just that it was limited in terms of time. I guess every place is different, as Fab Cook noted.

  14. I most class myself as very lucky then, as close to where I live there is a Cafe open from 6am-3pm Mon-Sat and you can eat what you like, also a Cafe/Resturant open 6am-8pm, again eat what you want obvioulsy from the menus...There are also 24hr supermarkets if I do run out at the last minute...So maybe things are not all that bad in certain parts of London...