After nearly three decades in this country, it’s fair to say that I’m pretty English. But there are some areas in which I’m still firmly European. Breakfast is one of those areas. This was demonstrated on a recent trip abroad with my husband, who is British born and bred.

We rented a flat in the centre of Rome and were recommended a local bakery for our breakfast needs. The place was tiny, its single window elaborately stuffed with an artistic arrangement of Italian cakes of all shapes and sizes. A queue of Romans snaked from its door, all the way down to the local square. On seeing this we decided to divide and conquer. Husband would stay in the queue, while I went off to find a supermarket for any extra ‘bits’ that we might need. We didn’t discuss this further. After all, we’ve been together sixteen years – we should be able to coordinate a breakfast. Not so.

On returning to the flat, I was dismayed to realise that, instead of the bagful of beautiful continental breakfast-cakes that I was expecting, my husband had bought a slab of dry white bread. Husband in turn was crushed to notice that, instead of bacon and butter to adorn the slab of dry bread and turn it into a bacon buttie, I had purchased a low-quality tea and no milk (as none was sold in an Italian corner shop).

He couldn’t drink the tea. Neither of us could eat the bread. So we skipped breakfast and went out for a three-course lunch instead. Sometimes when you’re from different places, it makes sense to admit defeat in the pursuit of finding common ground.

Maria Smedstad bio Scan Magazine

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