Full Irish breakfast
A full Irish breakfast is a hearty, fried meal that is traditional throughout Ireland. It is generally included in the cost of an overnight stay in any bed and breakfast or guest house and might also be included (or be available at an extra charge) in a hotel. It can also be found in many cafés, restaurants, and even some bars, sometimes, despite the name, being served throughout the day. A variation, the Ulster Fry, is more common in Northern Ireland.
At absolute minimum, a full Irish breakfast would be expected to contain:
- Fried pork sausages
- Bacon rashers
- Egg, usually fried, though scrambled may be available as an option
- Bread, usually toasted
- The above being accompanied by coffee or tea.
However, a breakfast containing only the bare minimum would be considered quite mean. Generally, therefore, a "full Irish" will also contain one or more of the following optional extras:
- Black pudding and/or white pudding - a type of sausage containing pork, cereal and spices. Black pudding is a blood sausage, containing pig blood. A serving of black or white pudding would be one or two thick slices.
- Fried tomato
- Fried mushrooms
- Baked beans
- Hash browns
- Orange juice.
After the fried breakfast has been enjoyed, it may be followed by more tea or coffee, with any remaining toast being eaten with orange marmalade - though hotels may have a variety of jams and fruit preserves available.
The culture of the "full Irish"
A fairly recent occurrence is the "breakfast roll" - sold by delicatessens and convenience stores with hot deli counters, this is basically a buttered bread roll containing all the basic ingredients outlined above, often covered in brown sauce.
Growing awareness of the health risks associated with consumption of large quantities of fried food means that many people will instead grill some of the ingredients, where possible.
A full Irish would not generally be an average person's usual breakfast. At home, it is usually seen as a treat and would generally be reserved for the weekend or a day off, partly due to the time involved in its preparation. It is also widely praised as a hangover cure.
The Ulster fry
The traditional cooked breakfast of Ulster shares many of the ingredients of a full Irish, but would generally replace the toast and optional extras with one or more types of bread - soda farls or potato bread.