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Dusting Off: The Continental Breakfast

continentalbreakfast_crop.jpgCopyright Bill Ewing

As connoisseurs of history, we sometimes find styles, habits and turns of phrase from the past that we wouldn’t mind bringing back to the present, Doc Brown-style. This time around, we’re dusting off the continental breakfast.

We like rituals. Pomp. Circumstance. The more accoutrements—the silver service, the folded napkin—the better.

And while the standard breakfast ritual has been whittled down to “coffee and something else,” we’d like to make room for something a bit more elegant. Nothing that would involve any elaborate stove work, just a bit of culinary ceremony at the start of the day…or what is commonly known as the continental breakfast.

Every country has a slightly different spin on it, but the basics are the same: a cup of coffee, a glass of juice, and a croissant with jam. If you want to throw in some yogurt or cured meat, you’re welcome to, but don’t go crazy: you’re going for the bare minimum to get you through to lunch. And since there are numberless variations on each element, it’s never exactly the same.

It’s not that different from a lavish tour of a coffee shop menu, but once you give it a name it takes on that all-too-rare sense of ritual. Suddenly it’s an occasion, whether it’s a business meeting or a morning-after. All it takes is a little time, some extra tableware, and a name. Anyone who happens to own a coffee shop (or just an espresso machine) should consider it.