Ready to Eat, Here I Come
I’m really not a morning person. Not at all. It takes a good hour and a half of mooching about in my dressing gown, drinking coffee, eating breakfast and general navel contemplation for my mind to register that it’s a new day and my face to fall into its correct position. As for my bed hair, well, let’s just not go there. That’s a daily disaster all by itself….
Imagine my horror then when I was told to present myself for fasting blood tests at a Central London Hospital at 8 fricking 30 am! This meant not only hoisting myself out of my beloved cosy, warm and snuggly bed at an unmentionably early hour but also doing entirely without my fluffy dressing gown, my breakfast (not a single crumb!) and worst of all, forsaking my morning shot of caffeine, for a 60 minute sardine tin rush hour schlep on bus and tube! I’m a tough cookie, a pick yourself up by the bootstraps kinda gal, a roll your sleeves up and get down to it merchant, but that was an almost insurmountable challenge, I can tell you!
Obviously, there was never going to be time for face in place, tamed hair or any semblance of smart dressing, are you kidding me? Not at that time of the morning! The comfy, stretchy jeggings with a hole above the pocket, the super baggy navy jumper, the worn old Uggs and every fervent hope that I wouldn’t bump into anyone I knew were just about the best I could muster with my eyes still half shut.
Anyway, dear reader, I got there eventually, after getting lost in warren like corridors and struggling to find the appropriate department, finally to have various needles stuck into my arms. Like vampires, they extracted my precious life blood and then blessedly let me go. Freedom! Time to eat! Just like flu affects men, low blood sugar levels do pretty much the same for me; weak and drawing on my very last vestiges of energy, I managed to haul myself to the nearest Prêt à Manger which happened to be in pretty little Warren Street, W1. Emergency over! Now the day could begin properly!
I’m inordinately fond of Prêt, I must say. I remember its early beginnings in mid 80s London, when its then revolutionary sandwich bar concept of using only natural ingredients, handmade and prepared daily on the premises and sold packaged in recyclable materials caused a sensation. Coffee and milk were and are 100% organic. Unsold food is delivered by fleets of vans to appropriate charities at the end of each day and the corporate structure is friendly, such that employees are encouraged to climb the ranks. Over the last 30 years, Prêt à Manger’s innovative first shop in Victoria, London, has blossomed into a vast business empire of 350 outlets not just on almost every high street in the UK but also in the USA, Paris, Hong Kong and Shanghai.
They offer sandwiches, baguettes, wraps, soups, sushi, salads, desserts, fruit, pastries, snacks, breakfast, hot beverages and cold juices, all of excellent quality and, of course, fresh. Going with the times, they are now increasing their vegetarian and vegan options too and even have two all-veggie shops in Shoreditch, where else, serving such delicacies as vegan mac’n cheese, with plenty of kale, of course, and this will also be rolled out in the U.S.
My favourite is their lengendary Posh (OMG, how I loathe that word!!) Cheddar and Pickle Artisan Baguette, a sandwich experience second to none, but on this day I was hankering after the breakfast I hadn’t yet had. A Very Berry Compote topped with Yoghurt and Gluten Free Granola, a warm Pain au Raisin and a cup of nice, strong, black Americano did the trick most wonderfully. My intention was to eat only half of each and take the rest home for the Lovely Husband but in the event, sitting there in the sunshine and watching the office workers rush by, every last little morsel went down a treat. Revived and refreshed, I gradually reverted back from zombie to some sort of human state, the raw face, mad hair and slovenly outfit notwithstanding.
To make up for all the calories, I strode along to the tube station at a brisk pace, now happy as Larry, my verve and energy fully restored, and made my way home, feeling ready for action and a busy full day ahead.
I paid under £5 for my copious breakfast. Staff were efficient and friendly. Prêt à Manger is open on weekdays from early in the morning until mid evening and on weekends usually from 9 am onwards until early evening, although exact times depend on each location. Food can be taken away or eaten in their spotlessly clean, utilitarian but pleasant outlets.
What I wore
A pair of blue jeggings, bought in Azerbaijan and very well worn since, an oversized navy blue M&S cashmere jumper, a pair of absolutely ancient Uggs and a navy Longchamps bag.
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