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The Great British Fry Up aka English Breakfast

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Before the days of pop tarts, the real way every workingman started his day was with an equally unhealthy yet far more tasty fry up. Bacon, sausage, fried eggs (sunny side up) black pudding, fried bread, tomatoes, fried potatoes and a field mushroom or two if cash was not an issue, or if you happened to live near a field that was kind enough to yield these fine fellows.


Running back through the list there is a couple of specifics that need to be clarified. Bacon, real English bacon is cut from the loin. When the bacon is cooked, the rind should be crisp but the meat not dry (although in the North of England it might not be too crispy at all), quite a different product than say American bacon. The bacon will curl a little but if you like it sitting a little flatter on the plate you would need to take a leaf from my Nan’s book. As a child, I can remember her snipping through the rind with a pair of red handled scissors. You do not need the red handles; any pair of scissors will do it for you. The bacon is then fried.


The sausage I think are best when grilled. Pricked with a fork first to prevent them the opportunity to split. Grill them well, a good brown color all around, even to the point where it takes a tiny bit of force to cut through the skin. Season up the tomatoes and mushrooms; grill them with the sausage and the black pudding.


Black pudding: always a mystery to me growing up. I always wanted to taste this sausage composed of pig’s blood, fat, bread, and seasonings. I can recall countless occasions where my Mother yielded to my nagging and bought me a small piece, only to sit in our refrigerator until it had expired quicker than I could rustle up the courage to eat a product made with pig’s blood. To this day, I have still never consumed a piece, and yes, I did just buy a piece on my last trip home … You can guess where it still is right now! With the onslaught of England’s current live stock problems I do not envision black pud’ being a hot commodity for a little while.


The potatoes are only there if there was a surplus from dinner the night before.


Fried bread; once the bacon has been fried it comes out of the pan and a couple of thick slices of bread go in, the hot bacon fat crisping up the bread. This is the business, a good old chunky bit of fried bread.


Lastly the eggs, sunny side up. In the pre Teflon days, the way to cook the snotty bit on the top of the egg was a little wave under the grill. Now however it just calls for a quick flip of a confident wrist.


The final additions to the breakfast of Kings and working class heroes, is tomato ketchup, HP or Daddy’s Sauce (HP’s not so aristocratic poor cousin). A couple rounds of toast, thick cut marmalade, and lastly and certainly the most important component; a mug of steaming hot tea. Coffee is not drunk with a fry up.


The black stuff is only consumed with a fry up when it is eaten later in the day. In this case, the black stuff would be a big old pint of Guinness. The reason for the late dining would probably be a juicy hangover, so why not add half a can of baked beans for good measure.


Related story: “Something for Nothing: Fabulous London Freebies”

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