Saturday, July 18, 2009

What colour is your breakfast?

Staying recently at the Hilton in Cardiff, I was a little bemused by the luxury chain's colour-coded breakfast guide.

In order that residents can watch what they eat, every item of food on the menu is given a badge reminiscent of the playing pieces in Trivial Pursuit. Low fat and low cholesterol foods are marked in subtle blues. High fibre is green. But what of the stuff that isn't so good for you? The traditional English fry-up, perhaps? Or the high-fat cheeses that sit on the continental counter?

Well, watch out for the red and yellow symbols. Although the colours spell danger, the names don't. Red stands for 'hi-energy'. According to the corporate blurb, it's just the kind of stuff you might need if you want to go on a day's sightseeing. If you're feeling particularly decadent, you can go the whole hog and follow the yellow 'indulgence' trail. This seems to give you carte blanche - or carte jaune, perhaps - to eat anything you want, although it's reassuring to know that the grub will always be of the 'freshest and finest quality'.

If you're confused, you should see the actual restaurant. It's possible for a particular food to be a combination of colours. Quite a few managed to be both 'hi-energy' and 'indulgence' at the same time. But I guess if you've given yourself permission to have a yellow day, it doesn't much matter that your breakfast items are also a high-calorie red.

The hospitality spin doctors have surely done a fine job here. But what would the hospital doctors make of it, I wonder? I’m trying to picture that conversation.

“So, Mr Woodford, these high energy foods you mentioned. What exactly are we talking about?"

"Oh, just the usual, Doc. Bacon, sausage, fried egg. That kind of thing. That's what makes this whole episode so strange. I've been very careful to avoid indulgence."

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