Traditional English Breakfast
Many people in the UK swear by a traditional English breakfast in the morning as the only proper start to the day. There is a long-standing tradition of a cooked breakfast, consisting of meat and egg products, with bread, washed down with gallons of English tea or coffee, across the UK, including Scotland and Wales, as well as Ireland, and there are many cafes, restaurants and roadside diners where this meal is available.
Over recent years health concerns about the impact upon the body that daily consumption of so much meat and fried foods can have, have warned that regular or daily consumption of this meal is not good, and many other healthy alternative options have come on to the menu.
Porridge, traditionally eaten in Scotland, is one such example, and other wheat-based cereals are others. A lighter breakfast, which includes the egg and toast aspect of the traditional English breakfast, but missing out the meat, which is normally bacon, sausage and possibly black or white pudding, is another option.
What Exactly is an English breakfast?
The staples of an English breakfast are some meat, some egg, bread in the form of toast, possibly fruit juice, and lots of tea.
The meat is usually bacon, always fried and often served quite crispy, as this is thought to be the English preference. There will often be sausage as well, either pork or beef, also generally fried (although grilling meat is the healthier option), and as with the bacon, quite well done. Other meat options include either black or white pudding, a fatty sausage usually consisting of blood or animal byproducts.
The egg is served in a variety of ways. Many people have a preference for a fried egg, served ‘sunny side up’, but alternative ways of cooking include scrambled eggs (the authors preference) cooked with or without a little milk in the mix; poached eggs, where the egg is cracked into some already boiling water, and even simple boiled eggs.
Most restaurants and cafes offer a choice of white or brown wholemeal bread. This is served as a ‘round’ of toast, which simply means several slices per diner. The bread is intended to mop up the egg and meat juices from the plate, and is also eaten after the meat and egg with lashings of butter and marmalade or jam (or also honey possibly) as a sweet course.
The liquid component of this culinary feast is usually fruit juice, either orange or grapefruit, although many restaurants now have cranberry juice and tomato juice on the menu, as slightly more exotic and possibly healthy choices as well. The main drink will be English tea, generally served by the pot, and drunk by the English generally by the gallon.
Many of us English need a cup of tea just to get started in the morning!
The Reality of an English breakfast
The reality is that apart from the health aspect of eating so much meat and fried food every day, many people simply don’t have time to cook all this, as well as sitting down to eat it. Many of those who work in the building and construction Industry swear by a full cooked traditional English breakfast every day, hence the popularity of roadside cafes and even roadside vans selling it, and they have the physical constitution for so much protein consumption, doing hard physical labour every day.
But scientists do criticise this belief, and nutritionists are pointing to the need for health-minded moderation in the nations eating habits, and suggest that consuming such a hearty traditional cooked English breakfast should only be an occasional treat.