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Writer Darren Skelton serves up memories of starting the day with hearty meal of meats, eggs and, of course, tea.
Text by:Darren Skelton

n China, you can have a couple of great steamed buns filled with meat with a couple of tea eggs as a side for breakfast. In America, you could have some pancakes dripping in syrup with strong black coffee. And on the British Isles, you can enjoy a great British breakfast, also known as the “full English fry-up”.

A full English fry-up is a substantial breakfast, usually consisting of bacon, sausages and eggs, often served with a variety of side dishes and beverages such as coffee or tea, plus a glass of orange juice. It is especially popular in the British Isles and other colonial outcrops.

When an English breakfast contains everything available, it is often referred to as a ‘Full English’, or a ‘Full Monty’.

The key ingredients of a full breakfast vary according to region and taste. They are often served with condiments such as brown sauce or ketchup. Some of the more common ingredients are fried, poached or scrambled eggs, some rashers of bacon, grilled or fried depending on how health conscious you are, sausages, toast, baked beans, fried tomatoes and fried mushrooms. All washed down with a large mug of tea!

Black pudding is an optional ingredient in most regions, as are fried leftover mashed potatoes (called potato cakes) or hash browns. Interestingly hash browns were originally a way to use up leftover vegetables from the main meal of the day before; bubble and squeak, shallow-fried leftover vegetables with potato, has become a breakfast feature in its own right.

Black pudding itself is an acquired taste. It is essentially fried blood!

Interestingly, the Scottish, the Welsh and the Irish all have their own unique little twist to this great culinary delight. For example, the Irish version replaces black pudding with white pudding. White pudding is very similar to black pudding but does not include blood. Consequently, it consists of pork meat and fat, suet, bread, and oatmeal formed into a shape. In Scotland, porridge may occasionally be served as a starter in smaller portions along with the fry-up. The traditional Welsh breakfast includes laver bread, which is a seaweed purée that is mixed with eggs, bacon, and cockles and fried into crisp patties.

The style of breakfast has carried over to the U.S., as they traditionally derived much of their culture from Britain and its colonies (though continental breakfast foods are also popular as a result of the European immigrant population). A full breakfast in America may also be accompanied by such Americas staples as the bagel or the waffle.

In Canada, the meal may be known as a lumberjack breakfast.

Where to get the best English fry-up

The last time I went back home to my Yorkshire village, the first meal I had was a full breakfast, cooked by my mother and devoured by the whole family who had conveniently turned up. My Dad was particularly happy, because he is rarely permitted a full English fry-up within the confines of his own home under the watchful eye of his wife.

Many British cafés, restaurant, eateries, and pubs serve the meal at any time as an “all-day breakfast” because it is that popular. Moreover, there are ‘greasy spoonsdotted here and there and everywhere across England, from the leafy London suburbs to the slightly downtrodden town estates in northern mining towns that have seen better days.

I have great memories of the fry-up from my student days when there was an exceptionally convenient all-day cafe located on the walk from my home to campus, and as such, I popped in once, twice or thrice a week.

Other pleasurable memories of the fry-up are from staying in a Bed & Breakfast (B&B), when you visit a seaside town such as Brighton, Skegness or Blackpool. It is fair to say that this great English breakfast has helped many a young man kick-start the morning after a night out.

My father is a lorry-driver and therefore is an expert on where to get your full English fry-up. The best places he says are the truck-stop cafés, or more simply, truck stops. These truck stops grew up as the mainstay of British lorry drivers who travelled the major truck roads. These cafes also made convenient meeting places where the trade unions could talk to their members.

At such places, you can obtain more than a full English fry-up; hot and cold sandwiches are also often available, with the ‘bacon butty’ and sausage sandwich being particularly popular. The main drink in a “British working men’s café” is usually tea, especially “builder’s tea” (a nickname for a mug of strong, black tea, such as English breakfast tea, usually served with a lot of milk and spoons of sugar). Often the only coffee available will be instant coffee, though this has slowly changed with the increased proliferation of coffee drinking in the UK as it becomes more cosmopolitan.

These cafes are not noted for healthy food options (although jacket-spuds (baked potatoes) are generally on the menu), thus those on weight-watcher plans and those who are vegetarians should eat elsewhere. Nowadays, they are few and far between, as times have changed. Fast food chains such as Burger King and Wimpy have sprung up, and citizens’ awareness of healthy eating has improved. In addition, hygiene laws have probably closed down the vast majority (rightfully so in most cases).

Because I live abroad now, I don’t often consume a full English fry-up, which is indeed a pity, as it is one of life’s dirty little joys. I do try to cook one up once a month!


The English full fry-up .

UK has a very particular meal for breakfast called the “English fry up” or “Full Monty”. British breakfast consists of, bacon, sausages, eggs, coffee or tea and a glass of orange juice. But there are other components of this breakfast depending on the region for example:

Black pudding: It is essentially fried blood

Or as eaten by the Irish, white pudding: very similar to black pudding but it doesn´t include blood. It consists of pork meat and fat, suet, bread, and oatmeal.

Hash Browns: fried leftover mashed potatoes .

The best places for eating a Full English Breakfast are the Bed and Breakfast (B&B) and the truck-stops. Unfortunately nowadays because of health awareness the restaurants are few and far from each other. But just like as our author, you can try to cook up your own Full English Breakfast at home!



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The full English fry-up



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Full English fry-up

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