There was great excitement at breakfast today – well from me, at any rate. I walked into the dining room to be greeted by a brand, spanking new coffee machine … and it works perfectly! Chay, the assistant manager, told me proudly that they’d spent $4,500 on it.
It’s the sort that grinds the beans before making the coffee, and it has an Italian-sounding name – a definite improvement on the urn that dispensed coffee in the mornings up until now.
Breakfasts are pretty good here in the hotel. There’s always a selection of tropical fruit –
– the purple dragon fruit has become a favourite since I arrived.
And thanks to Cambodia being a former French colony, there are passable croissants
and sliced baguette.
This last item is the source of many early morning problems for me.
I am very fond of toast for breakfast – and they have a toaster here – a large 4-slice one made by a reputable manufacturer.
The problem with the toaster is that it shoots the bread out so powerfully when it’s cooked that the small slices of baguette ping all over the room. Because this is not a throwaway society, the toaster has probably been repaired many times, and another ex-pat suggested that they may have put the spring from a motorbike kick-stand into it, which would explain the velocity with which the bread leaves the toaster.
I have tried several ways of dealing with this issue, and none are entirely successful. Trying to catch the toast in mid-air is very difficult, especially if there are other guests milling around the buffet counter. Jamming your plate down on top of the machine as soon as you hear it pop up is more successful, but it does occasionally backfire and the toast shoots off the bottom of the plate at an angle and ricochets off the walls. It’s hard to look nonchalant while this is happening and other guests are staring at you, with their own breakfast lying meekly on their plate. I’m wondering whether heavier bread might be a better solution – perhaps I could weigh it down with something, or jam two slices in together so that they’re too squashed to propel themselves skywards, or invest in a butterfly net to catch it in mid-air.
I was complaining to some other volunteers about the toaster, and was told in no uncertain terms that I should consider myself fortunate to have access to a toaster at all, even one that gives every impression of having been crossed with a catapult. So great is the problem that the ex-pats page on Facebook is full of tips about how to make toast without a toaster – the favoured method being dry fried in a frying pan. But I am assured that this tastes nothing like proper toast; the only advantage being that it does stay in the pan once it’s cooked and doesn’t hurl itself across the room, kamikaze-style, leaving a trail of crumbs behind it.