Irish Breakfast Roll at the Galtee Cafe
By Mahmood Fazal
Welcome to the belly of the beast.
Here I am again. Running on broken sleep and a night in the clenches of cheap Calvados. I’m heading toward Richmond because some brute wants to yell at my partner about a refund or something. She asked me to join her. He was wearing pink trousers and giving passive aggression a real go. God bless him. I was desperate for coffee but I could tell from the people on these streets, moustache sporting freaks who get high and talk about that LCD Soundsystem gig, that there would be no serious coffee on offer around these parts. I was on the expensive side of Richmond. And I don’t mean that in a condescending way, I love all things expensive because it represents everything I could never have. Although, life has taught me that cheat codes are not limited to GTA. That’s why I’m writing this today. We can live like Gods through our mouths, minds and bellies. What I mean to say is that this is not the cosmopolitan oasis that is East Richmond. I was in the tasteless bit. And I was desperate. Across the road, a small cafe was bustling with a generous mix of tradies, hipsters and rich people enjoying their Sunday afternoon. The Galtee Cafe. What drew me in was the superb font on the signage; it had this sexy 70s disco thing going on with a strong shot or hint of Ireland. You might be suprised, I was not, to hear that a quick Google search of “Irish Disco” bears no fruits. Anyway, I went to the Galtee Cafe because I was desperate. And like all great cocktails of desperation and blind luck, I hit the jackpot. I went because I was desperate. I stayed because it grabbed me by the balls. I audibly gasped when I read what was on the menu, and I read it aloud before the inked-up Irish owner even bothered to look at me. The venue was bursting with fiends chasing a serve and she was grumbling something in Irish or whatever language it is they speak. Whatever it is don’t call it English. Madam, may I have one Irish breakfast roll, please? I felt like the beggar boy Oliver Twist. I immediately knew I wanted more. Leprechauns were dancing madly on my shoulders. I almost ordered a second one, being the obscenely gluttonous motherfucker that I am, but then thought it might be impolite given the growing line behind me. In a warm French baguette, she served me Clonakilty black pudding, white pudding, Irish pork sausages, a hashbrown, bacon, tomato, and HP brown sauce - topped off with a fried egg, of course. Few things in life make me hornier than the blood of a pig. The rounds of black and white pudding burst with all the warmth of a bygone time. A time when things were hard and simple. A time when greasy palmed miners would have to wrap their entire meals in bread or pastry. This wasn’t comfort food. It was light at the beginning of a tunnel or work day. Textures and flavours smudged against one another to conjure meals and flavours that keep the hardworking guts warm all day long. This was the food of stamina. This was Irish soul food. I share a glance with some tradies who were adjusting their belts as they completed their romance with the breakfast roll. Their eyes light up as they inhale another cigarette. They were buckled in and ready for whatever bullshit was on its way. Wikipedia tells me: the breakfast roll became a national dish in Ireland during the Celtic Tiger economic boom of the 1990s and 2000s, becoming synonymous with "Breakfast Roll Man", the archetypal sub-contractor who was busy with construction work and needed sustenance on the move, before the bursting of the Irish property bubble in the late 2000s. The owner muttered something again and laughed. I nodded, dumbfounded, and thanked her.