English breakfast

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A traditional English breakfast generally consists of four elements: egg, tomato, baked beans, and bacon, athough sausages may frequently be included also. The term "English Breakfast" is often referred to as a "Full English" breakfast.

The egg may be scrambled, fried, or boiled; the tomato is typically sliced in half and the exposed side broiled, grilled, or fried; the bacon is of a different, wider cut than US bacon strips, and the beans are baked in a sweetened tomato sauce. The breakfast may also include an additional meat element; in England and Ireland this might often be a small black pudding; in Scotland it might instead be haggis. Fried mushrooms are an additional optional inclusion.

It is usually accompanied by English Breakfast tea, although coffee and orange juice are also possible as an accompanying beverage.

In his 1967 novel, The Ecstasy Business, Richard Condon, the American satirist and writer of political thrillers who was then living in Ireland, had one of his characters, a thinly disguised caricature of the British film director Alfred Hitchcock, order "what was known in the hotel trade as an English breakfast, a euphemistic designation because thanks to their taxes few Englishmen could afford such a meal and those few could not possibly have digested it. [1]

Although the breakfast is actually being served in a hotel in Hamburg, Germany, not in England, five rolling tables of food are presented to him, with silver dishes on two levels. Lifting the silver lids he confirms what Condon, with typical tongue-in-cheek inventiveness, presents as the old-fashioned (and possibly imaginary) items of an English breakfast:

"Ah, Durham bacon cake. Caudle, flummery, ale jelly. Rissered haddie! Huntington fidget, Bucks bacon badger, star-gazey pie and slapjack. Delicious!... They haven't sent the Bedfordshire clanger, the Hindle wakes or the bockings!... with the Somerset rook pie, the bog star, the jellied eels and the Tonbridge Mushroom Ketchup. ... But you've forgotten the jugged rabbit and the Burlington whimsey.... You're brought no pigs's pettitoes, no Kingdom of Fife, no limpet stovie or dressmaker tripe!...They make a wonderful Gooseberry Fool here." [2]


  1. The Ecstasy Business, by Richard Condon, The Dial Press, New York, 1967, pages 87-88
  2. ibid.