I just had breakfast in a lovely courtyard, next to a running fountain, with a cool breeze blowing, here at my hotel in Seville, the Vincci la Rabida. Breakfast is my favorite part of vacation, in so many ways. And my favorite meal in general.
I don’t know about you, but I can still here my mother’s voice saying “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day.”
But things that we accept as nutritional and scientific givens are, like so many other things, also cultural in nature. For you see, in Spain, as in Italy, they do not eat breakfast as we know it. Breakfast is coffee and a roll, maybe a pastry. And no one raised them to believe that breakfast was a nutritionally important meal for their life and well-being.
My knowledge that there is a cultural lack of acceptance of breakfast as a meal figures greatly into my hotel selection process. Because most of the people who come to countries like Spain and Italy eat a substantial breakfast (namely British and American tourists, and those kings of the breakfast buffet, the Germans), good hotels in both those countries work hard at providing a good and appealing breakfast buffet. And I do know how to find that information on their websites—the fact that they feel it important to include a picture of their breakfast spread is usually a good clue.
Here at the Vincci la Rabida, they do an especially nice job with breakfast. You can eat in the white-table-cloth restaurant, or on the tasteful all-too-Spanish patio in the courtyard. In addition to a magnificent spread of fresh fruit, juices, cheeses, and meats, they have a full range of Spanish ‘tapas” items that for us mean breakfast and for them mean snack food – the tortilla Espanola with tomato sauce, plates of seranno ham and manchego cheese – AND they have standard British breakfast items like sausages and beans with scrambled eggs. Oh yes, and in this land of cured pork products, they have the most amazing bacon, bacon that has only been rivaled in my affection by the bacon from Edwards of Surrey, VA, that I ate at the Blue Moon Diner the last time I was in Charlottesville.
So, if sometime you are having a discussion with me about hotels any time in the future, chances are my review will have more to do with the quality of the breakfast (and also the environs in which the breakfast is consumed, very, very important) than the quality of the rooms or the service: I’m more likely to talk about the time I stayed at the Hotel Danieli in Venice and had breakfast on a rooftop patio overlooking the Grand Canal, or the Westin in Berlin, with the never-ending supply of smoked salmon and the view that overlooked Unter den Lindenstrasse, or the Hotel Brufani in Perugia with fruit and a tea service to die for; or, last but not least the El Dorado Royal on the Riviera Maya south of Cancun, with its chocolate fondue fountains and churros.
Mama told me that breakfast was important – she never told me it was romantic!