“The only way to eat well in England is to have breakfast three times a day.”
— Somerset Maugham
I have enjoyed many a wonderful meal in England. Elegant pub fare (not a contradiction in terms) at the Notley Arms, nestled on the edge of Somerset’s Exmoor National Park, and in the thatched, golden stone of the Falkland Arms in Great Tew. Delicious, locally grown vegetarian food at Stones, surrounded by Avebury‘s magnificent circle of standing stones. Cream teas too numerous to mention; in the gardens of small Devonshire tea shops and accompanied by a string quartet in Bath, and — one of the best — at a picnic table on the edge of Exmoor, after a long, beautiful hike. Noodles at London’s hip Wagamama, fabulous Indian food in Leicester (!), and, on an evening when my new husband and I were both tired and a little cranky, the best Whopper ever at the Burger King in Shrewsbury.
And yet… when I consider the meal that has kept me on my feet, hiking English hills or wandering English museums or tripping on English sidewalks because I’m looking up at buildings yet again, I think of breakfast. The English cooked breakfast. The full breakfast. The fry-up.
The ingredients for a cooked breakfast are simple: eggs, bacon and/or sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes, bread, orange marmalade. Some people consider baked beans an indespensible part of a full breakfast; I’ll save those to go with my shepherd’s pie, thank you. The preparation is simple: fry up the bacon in a skillet, then add the sausage, mushrooms, tomatoes and eggs according to the time they will take to cook to your taste. While you could fry the bread, I toasted this homemade whole
grain meal bread in our toaster. (Sadly, we do not have a quintessentially English toast rack in which to stand toast.) Lower sodium bacon, chicken sausage, local free-range eggs and organic tomatoes do not a traditional cooked breakfast make, but it sure was yummy. And after we’d eaten, I felt ready to build an empire… or take a nap.
(We ate our cooked breakfast last Saturday on our very English Denby stoneware. We bought this little blue Denby pitcher on our honeymoon, while on a tour of the factory.)
UPDATE: In honor of St. George’s Day, Sam’s epic roundup of Fish & Quips posts will prove to even the most skeptical that English food is no joke. Sixty-five bloggers participated in Fish & Quips, and Sam has collected a photo and quotation from each of our posts. Take a look! Have a read! This is English food to make you drool.