Earlier this week the brother with whom I live returned from a business trip and went purple. 'YOU!' he screamed, jabbing a finger into my face. 'YOU ATE MY EASTER EGG!'
It's true. I did.
'You're greedy,' he told me. 'You're a greedy... gastronomic... hedonist!'
I took it as a compliment. Food gives me the kind of life-affirming pleasure nothing else can. Case in point: breakfast. Herein, then, lie five clichéd life lessons as learned at the ultimate greedy gastronomic hedonist's feast known as All-You-Can-Eat Brunch.
One: Impossible is nothing
Don't be put off by the mountain in front of you- the only way to eat an elephant, both real and metaphorical, is one bite at a time.
I didn't believe I was capable of managing the grilled artichoke and mushroom gnocchi with wilted sorrel and the smoked feta cheese, shaved fennel, pomegranate and toasted pistachio salad and poached king prawns with special house rub. But do you know what? I promised myself I'd try.
I'm huge believer that we chase feelings. It's not the goal we need to complete us, but the way we'll feel when we achieve that goal. I knew the feeling that I hadn't given the feasting table my absolute best would be worse than the crushing disappointment of not even trying, and so slowly, surely, I ate.
Internet? I even had belly room for two lavender macaroons afterwards. I'll remember that feeling of accomplishment, of setting a goal and seeing it through until the end, no matter how hard, until at least lunch today. Everything is impossible until it's not.
Two: We can't do it alone
It's easy to think of needing help as a weakness. On the way back from the bathroom I snook four pieces of homemade fudge from the petit fours station, and knew the instant I put the first sliver of it in my mouth that it was too rich for me. I panicked.
I watched my brunch companion push, disheartened, at the last of her brownie. 'Here,' I said eventually, 'Will you help me with this?' She looked relived for the distraction. She instructed me to sample the cake, and wordlessly but happily we finished each other's castoffs.
Alone, we struggled with the overwhelming task. Together, we saw to both puddings. It's easy to forget to speak up when we're underperforming, not managing well, but when we do we can achieve great things. Needing help is nothing to be embarrassed about: united we stand.
Three: We own our consequences
If you're gonna down four Bucks Fizz before your ass has even touched the chair, there will be repercussions.
I knew as I was doing it that I'd come to regret it. Not only would the booze before the food possibly hinder the enjoyment of taste sensations to come, but I also risked being too drunk to even remember what I was eating.
I laughed too loudly and for a little too long at my friend's joke. I'm not entirely sure she made a joke actually, more likely was that I was simply very happy to be at all-you-can-eat brunch. People turned to stare. It was nobody else's fault: I had done this to myself, and only I could rectify the situation.
It was one of the more adult moments of my life when I decided, without hesitation, to only have two more Bucks Fizz and then drink straight-up H2O. I felt dizzy with self-empowerment in my choice- and subsequently didn't even throw up.
Four: Winners make their own rules
Everything before dessert is politeness- if you're in this game for the mini Eton Mess it's no good wading through the trauma of pulled pork only to find that you're too full or knackered from the constant fork-to-mouth action that by the end of it, you don't even enjoy the meringue.
One of my favourite quotes comes from The Gospel According to Coco Chanel by Karen Karbo: "Why make nachos if what you really want to do is pick the browned shreds of baked cheddar off the cookie sheet? Just cook the cheese and be done with it."
I saw the judgement in the eye of my waiter when I plucked for chocolate cake before dressed cockles. But if brunch taught me anything, it's that winners make their own rules. When the woman at the table next to us followed suit with a nibble of blueberry cheesecake before her salad, I understood implicitly that my braveness had inspired her own.
Five: The point of life is happiness
If life is happiness, and happiness is brunch, then the point of life must be exceptional amounts of food. There- that's the meaning of it all. A full belly and no guilt for it. Bon appetit.
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