Breakfast is sacred. From doctors to aerobics trainers, anyone interested in your health will stress it’s importance. Even if you don’t eat it, you know that you should. And you probably have very well-formed ideas of what it should look like.

So you arrive at your cafe of choice with omelette on your mind at quarter past ten, only to realise that breakfast is only served there till ten. Or you’ve been a bit more relaxed, you look at the clock to realise that it’s ten to twelve, and you’re left with nine minutes to get dressed, out the door, and down the block before you’ll be forced to eat lunch. Or maybe it’s one of those days you hardly get up at all, but your rest is troubled by the knowledge that unless you want to head across town to the place which advertises breakfast anytime, you’ll have to be up by four pm, when your favourite breakfast and lunch menus are replaced by dinner.

There are a lot of people who demand the solution that breakfast be served all day. I appreciate their concerns. But for the most part they fail to account for the serious nature of the breakfast experience. By allowing breakfast all day, we run the risk of wholesale abuse of the menu, with people eating hours after waking, or even taking advantage of the system to order from the breakfast menu after they have already eaten a meal, or when the day is over. These ‘breakfast junkies’ are responsible for the decision of many right-minded dining house proprietors to limit breakfast to prescribed hours. Allowing them to indulge their laissez-faire appetites any time would, I suggest, be as bad as the draconian system we now endure.

I propose that breakfast be put back where it belongs, in the hands of the professionals. The chefs and waitpersons understand. The other day I collapsed into the bench seat of a cafe with three friends around midday, and the waiter began to ask whether we wanted the breakfast or lunch menus, checked himself, realised that we had been forced up before our time and had undergone some ordeal before arriving at his establishment, and delivered breakfast menus.

Only a food service professional can be trusted to determine whether, regardless of the time, a customer is in need of breakfast. There are people for whom a piece of Vegemite toast suffices to break their fast, and who should not then be allowed breakfast. There are shiftworkers who sleep all day, and cannot be expected to wake up to pasta or steak and three veg. It must even be said that some time after waking (dependant on lifestyle and metabolism) a person may be said to have missed breakfast, and must proceed directly to lunch. A chef or waiter worth their salt will be able to discern with a glance whether their customers are in need of breakfast.

It is time for cafe and restaurant workers to realise their responsibility, and to provide equity in menu options: breakfast for those who need it, at any time, and a ban on gratuitous breakfasting. The government must institute a breakfast authority. Health professionals such as irridologists and chiropodists, who no one knows what they do anyway, may be employed to perform random spot checks on diners. Eating establishments which through oversight or ill intent do not conform to the demands of the community should be fined or closed down. Breakfast must be served fairly to those, and only those, to whom it is due.