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Sunday Buffet

Written By Scott Joseph On August 1, 2009

full english breakfast

The Full English brekkie and other tasty morsels

Let us now consider the curious case of the full English breakfast. It is one of the most mysterious things you will encounter during a visit to Great Britain. You’ll find the “full English” offered at bed and breakfasts, hotels, pubs or just about anywhere breakfast is served. And more and more there are restaurants that offer the meal all day long.

Now there isn’t anything odd about breakfast or even an all-day-long breakfast. What’s strange are the components that comprise the traditional full English. They are: eggs, bacon, sausage, baked tomato, baked beans, mushrooms and black pudding (also known as blood pudding).  And I’ll also grant you that, with the exception of the pudding, which is not well-known to American palates, all those components are perfectly acceptable comestibles, including at breakfast. The baked beans particularly have a certain American cowboy allure as a morning meal.


But what I find so curious is that no one seems to know how or why these ingredients came to be accepted as the typical British morning meal. Wouldn’t you think someone somewhere along the way would have asked? Or that some British historian would have looked into it?

But I can’t find any documentation on it. I was certain each component was chosen for some symbolic significance. The eggs, of course, would signify life; the mushrooms would represent the peaty soil of Britain; the baked beans would symbolize the nation’s natural gas resources. But no, there’s nothing on the books about it.

The best that Wikipedia can offer is that there are variations to the ingredients or the way the eggs are prepared. Or that it is sometimes known as a Scotch breakfast, and that instead of calling it the full English it is occasionally called the full Monty. I suppose if you eat it in the nude you have a double Monty.

I did find one modern twist to this old tradition, at a new favorite London spot of mine called Amano where I went every morning to avail myself of free wi-fi. (Read more about Amano by clicking here.) Part of their morning menu featured a full English wrap sandwich, or, as they call it, a wrapanini. It has bacon, scrambled eggs, grilled mushrooms and tomatoes inside a grilled tortilla wrap (blood sausage is not an option in the wrap version). It was good, but truthfully, without the beans, it tasted like any other breakfast wrap.

It’s not unusual — depending on your definition of unusual — to find the full English presented as a buffet in hotels. (The photo shown above is of the buffet at my hotel in Cambridge, England.) Help yourself to heaps of as much as you want. You’re sure to find most of it quite palatable, even the black pudding. Just don’t question any of it.


Other items on today’s Sunday Buffet:


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