Last time out I touched on the little judgments that go through your barista’s head when you order your coffee—those involuntary prejudices that we have to keep locked up so as not to offend our valued customers.
Some of it might have been hurtful to read, and if I offended any of you, I’m deeply sorry (unless you drink soy milk).
And if it’s any comfort, know that when you order your breakfast, we’re going to be judging that decision just as ruthlessly too.
I’m not saying we go as far as assuming the reason you can’t afford a house is because you treat yourself to a smashed avo once in a while, but nobody gets a free pass, not even you (shoutout to the overly-paranoid).
So, what does your breakfast say about you?
Let’s start with something simple.
Eggs are great. You can do so much with them, but they are so intrinsic to a breakfast plate that they deserve their own section, so here goes.
Eggs on toast is a perfectly acceptable, if a little plain, breakfast order and if you decide to treat yourself to a serving in the morning there’ll be very little judgement coming your way.
Things will begin to change however, depending on a couple of tiny variables.
If you ask for a well-done egg, and you’re not pregnant, we’ll assume that you’re a child and offer to cut the crusts off your toast.
Also, if you order eggs on toast for lunch, we’re going to think that we should probably check in with our loved ones, just so that when we go missing, the police have our last known location.
It is a breakfast meal.
And if you order any more than one extra egg, we get it, you’re the next Arnold Scwartzenegger. Just hurry up and ‘hasta la vista’ before you tell us anymore about F45.
The classic bacon & egg roll is an extremely low-risk order, but again there are ways to make us judge you.
If it comes with some form of salad and you ask for it not to, similar to requesting a well-done egg, we’ll send it out with a pack of crayons.
And if you order one without checking to see if it’s even on the menu first (I’ve worked in many vegetarian cafes where this is a reality), we’re going to assume you’re a tradie and we’ll just start making a large cappuccino with two sugars out of muscle-memory.
Smashed avo is a boring breakfast for boring people and you’re better than that.
Ordering a sweet breakfast like pancakes or french toast will make us assume you’re either American, or that you spend your days playing Playstation and arguing with teenagers online.
Muesli or granola however, tells us that you’ve checked out the menu, but you hated absolutely everything on there so you’re just going to order the safest thing you can see because your partner really wanted to try this place out and you drove 25 minutes to get here.
And that’s fine. The pot of yoghurt in the fridge is about to turn and it’s better than throwing it out.
Toast is a tricky one. On the one hand, it doesn’t get more boring and it makes so much more sense to just make it at home for a fraction of the $7+ you’ll likely pay at a cafe. But on the other hand, have you eaten buttered toast recently?
Every. Damn. Time.
You want to hate the person that skips an entire menu of well-crafted, interesting meals in favour of plain old toast, but you can’t blame them for wanting one of life’s simplest pleasures. The opportunity to hate will present itself organically, and it’s an opportunity we’ll take aggressively with both hands.
I’m talking about asking for gluten free bread.
Now, before you jump all over me, I know that celiac disease is very common, but believe me when I tell you, it’s because of how common it is that we can spot a fraud from a mile off.
People with a genuine intolerance to gluten ask questions. They ask about your prep area, they ask about how you’ll cook the toast and they’ll be concerned about any form of contamination that might occur.
Frauds do not.
They’ll see gluten free bread as a health food rather than the substitute that it is. Some even go as far as ordering gluten-full products to go on their gluten free toast. In case you’re not getting me, Vegemite is made out of yeast, which comes from wheat, which means it’s chocked full of lovely, stomach-cramping gluten. Don’t believe me? They even offer a gluten free version.
As with eggs on toast, plain old toast is also a breakfast food and as delicious as it is, ordering it for lunch will make us want to ask if everything’s okay at home.
Speaking of lunch, this meal is also not immune to our ever-judging eyes.
Let’s start with something common.
Now, sandwiches are something we all grow up eating, and as such a lot of people feel like they could probably do just as well at making one at home, rather than forking out $10-15 for one at the local cafe.
But here’s the thing: our sandwiches are better.
We order better quality ingredients, down to the bread and we order them in bulk so that the costs are lower. Sure, you could get the exact same ingredients as we do, but you’ll have a heap of leftovers and it’ll cost you a lot more than it would to just buy one of ours.
Our sandwiches are also very well thought out and assembled in a way that gives you the best possible experience when you bite into it.
Asking for no pickles, or maybe even no sauce is not recommended, but it is tolerated.
Asking for a million substitutions or alterations will ignite a fire within us that will burn with the intensity of a thousand suns and we will begin our descent into supervillainy with you squarely in our sights.
Also, sandwiches generally won’t translate well onto gluten free bread. This isn’t another rant, more us wanting you to get some value out of a meal. Gluten free bread is almost always tiny and expensive, and we never feel great about charging more for something that looks so much smaller.
Burgers and other junk food are a safe order for lunch (that’s why they’re on the menu), and you’ll receive no judgement on our end should you choose to indulge.
Attempting to make something like a burger healthy will.
This is because junk food is good because it’s unhealthy. You wouldn’t buy a petrol-guzzling sports car just to push it up and down the street in neutral in the interest of saving the planet, so don’t order a burger without chips or a bun in the interest of eating well. What you’re after is a salad.
Salads have always been a bit of a conundrum for me, which is ironic because I’ve mostly worked with vegetarian food, so you’d think my salad game would be stronger.
If you do order a salad, provided it’s close enough to the produce delivery day, we’ll be 100% on board with your choice. But as that delivery day gets further into the past, your salad order will inspire a mild anxiety in us that maybe some of this fresh produce isn’t too fresh anymore, and maybe you’ll notice the wrinkled skin on that tomato with sliced up, or the slight wilt in that leaf? We’ll try and disguise it by dressing everything to within an inch of its life, but until we see that empty plate when we clear your table, we’ll be a wreck.
Also, always get your salad with the dressing; that’s where 90% of the flavour will be.
And if you ask for something like chicken in a salad that doesn’t usually have chicken in it, just bite the bullet and get a schnitty, mate. It’s probably cheaper and it’ll give you the flavour that your heart truly desires.
At the end of the day, all us hospo workers want is for you to enjoy yourself and we’ve created menus that we’re fairly sure will achieve that, if you only put a little faith in us.
As a final note, please remember that a menu is an offering of meals that a cafe or a restaurant does. It is 100% not an ingredients list that you can select from a la carte. That’s called your kitchen at home. Keep that in mind, and prepare yourself to enjoy everything our great industry shoves down your throat.
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