So I was at a lumber yard looking at the fancy woods they’ve got. A guy on the yard was walking me through showing me what they’ve got, and at the end he added with a gesture “… and this here is just the run of the mill.” I realized at that moment that I was for the very first time hearing that expression in context. For a big geek that kind of thing can be pretty exciting and I, personally, am pretty easily amazed. People say things, they get meaning, those meanings change, but not as a unit. Phrases diffuse over the hills, or hop on to different islands, and evolve in their own directions to suit their own environments.
Ever wonder why the standard hotel breakfast is called the continental breakfast? I did — not as a thing I’ve always actively wondered about, it has just been an ambient missing piece. Well I figured it out this morning. I’m in the UK, and they were serving two options, the British breakfast and the Continental breakfast. Get it? The Continent is a meaningful idea, but only from the UK. This morning I had my first authentic continental breakfast, which is a hilarious idea, because continental means “other,” and its a mash and interpretation of the very different breakfasts served in every region of every nation of the continent. So its inherently inauthentic, but this was still the authentic inauthentic non-British breakfast. Its based most probably on the French breakfast. Croissant, with marmite, fruit, coffee or chocolate. The British breakfast is eggs, tomato, two kinds of vulgar sausage, and “bacon,” known to me as fried ham.
So there it is. Continental breakfast is the British interpretation of breakfast on the continent, and its great! Your Motel 8 roadside continental breakfast is only a cheap imitation of the true cheap imitation that I’m tucking in every morning this week.
Another funny thing about Britain: One of the many junkfood companies calls itself the real McCoy. Also, all the elevator voices have British accents.