Fried eggs are the centrepiece of a fried breakfast. They are the sun that the other elements revolve around. Many would disagree, but this is what I hold to be true. A runny yolk is a necessity, sausages need to have somewhere to dunk.
A hungover breakfast with a new flame. A caff on Hoxton Street. The aroma of chip fat beckoning as we make our way past Ladbrooks and Bargain World, weaving between the shoppers lingering on the pavement between the back of the market stalls and the shops. On Saturday morning the street is bustling. Squeezing itself between Joy Cosmetics and Crispy Cod, Paula’s is grey tile floor, non-descript walls lined with wooden tables. A fridge counter with trays of sandwich fillings beckons. It’s overshadowed by the strip of backlit signage overhead, detailing all the combinations of fried food you could need for a hangover.
We both order fried breakfasts. A side of chips which I stab at with a fork to dip into my runny eggs. Groggy from lack of sleep and not quite enough water to flush the alcohol from the night before. Gallons of builders’ tea wash down the greasy feast. Memories from the night before, make their way to the surface and join us at the table.
Sticky venue floor. Tracks you’ve been aching to hear, squeezed amongst a throng of moving bodies. Anticipation. The Sleepless. Slowly losing yourself to the backbeat flowing beneath the rapids of MC Det’s breakneck vocals. Like a Moving Truck. Becoming aware of who you are with and oblivious to where we are. The Rough and The Quick. The energy floods your body carrying you onto the night bus and then time and space warp. I look up and glance across the table strewn with crusts of toast and plates with fry up debris and exchange a knowing, lingering smile.
Hoxton has long since been gentrified. Twenty something hipsters share the street with the residents from the council estates that wrap around it, worlds colliding, never meeting.
I’ve long since given up the practice of waking up on a Saturday with a hangover, but occasionally, a fried egg and a lazy Saturday morning are made for each other. This one has shared the pan with a sprinkling of sea purslane and a scattering of girolle mushrooms. I stopped before I fried the bread and instead toasted it for it to soak up the flavours of what sits on top. A grind of pepper to help digest it all. A big mug of builders’ tea though, that’s not negotiable.