What is in an English breakfast?

The key components of an English breakfast include:

  • bacon
  • sausages
  • white egg
  • sliced fried red tomatoes
  • baked beans (in cans)
  • fresh salted mushrooms
  • fried or roast potatoes
  • fried bread
  • black pudding

An English breakfast may also include:

  • stewed prunes
  • buttered toast, often spread with orange marmalade
  • tea
  • orange juice

Usually the eggs are fried, but for a lighter, more healthy option they can be poached. The bacon can also be fried, but traditionally it is more often grilled until slightly crispy. A fresh tomato, halved and then grilled until browned, is much nicer than the tinned tomatoes or tinned baked beans so often substituted, and hot toast completes the meal. Traditionally it is served with tea (with milk), although coffee and orange juice are usually also offered.

Full English Breakfast

A variant on the above, called the “Full English Breakfast”, is a more substantial version which additionally contains a selection of the following:

  • one fried egg
  • one English-style sausage
  • two rashers of crispy fried bacon
  • a portion of fried mushrooms (browned)
  • two slices of fried black pudding (a type of sausage made with pig’s blood)
  • half a tomato, fried until brown
  • one slice of fried bread (a slice of white bread fried in oil, preferably the oil used to cook the bacon)

By the time you have added in all these (and other fried items such as hash browns, bubble and squeak or beans), it can become quite a plateful. Really large full English breakfasts (often colloquially known as “fry-ups”) are a staple of cheap cafés, themselves known as “greasy spoons” – a reference to the lack of quality and low standards of cleanliness of the establishment. True aficionados, however, often maintain that the best examples of a fry-up can only be found from such establishments, and many believe this is a result of the frying fat being reused and thus infused with the flavours of the dish.

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