“Full English” – Definitions:
a. A striptease dance in which everything is removed except for a strategically placed rasher of bacon and two fried eggs.*
b. A type of cooked breakfast prevalent in (would you believe) England and containing various ingredients to be discussed in this article.
As I travel around the UK on this extensive Windows 7 computer migration project I stay at a wide range of hotels and “Bed & Breakfast” establishments all of which are located and booked for me by my lovely wife, Faith.
Bear in mind that when overnight stays are considered appropriate (i.e. when the site concerned is more than 40 miles from home) the company pays a fixed overnight allowance in addition to the meagre daily pay rate and you will see that my aim is to spend as little as possible on accommodation. And THAT budgetary restriction sometimes means that the tariff I am forced to choose is “Room only”. Or, as I think of it – “find your own food”.
This was never a problem while we were doing the Windows 7 machines in the Allied Bakeries division of the company from early March to the end of May at their factories at Walthamstow, Orpington, Cardiff and West Bromwich. These all had heavily subsidised canteens and the shift patterns they worked meant that we could get very cheap cooked breakfasts and lunches, leaving an evening snack the only food to be procured.
As a result I have, since March 2012, carried with me an additional piece of luggage stuffed to the brim with various Pot Noodles in a variety of flavours and any other similar snacks of a kind that require only the addition of boiling water. I make that stipulation on the grounds that ALL the accommodation I occupy, however cheap, does at least give me access to a kettle!
The contents of that bag have, incidentally, been enhanced since July by a large plastic bag stuffed with a large and strange mixture of Twinings teabags and chocolate drink sachets that I acquired during my four weeks at that site so that I never want for either food or drink while away from home.
Outside of the Allied Bakeries canteens I have enjoyed the “Full English Breakfast” which is the nominal subject of this article at Bed & Breakfast houses or pubs in Wakefield, Salford, Newark, Andover, Driffield, and Sherburn. Without exception these have offered a choice from the following:
Bacon (fried or grilled).
Eggs (fried or scrambled).
Fried bread (as distinct from Toast, which comes as a side order).
Now, as I’m sure you will agree, a plate with that lot on it will keep even an appetite like mine happy for a large part of a working day but it was pondering on some of those ingredients that caused me to come up with this piece in the first place.
I don’t have a problem with the right of most of them to be included and only doubted Baked Beans and Hash Browns because they seemed to be of American origin.
I did (for once) decide to do some further research on one of my subjects and found that, like the potato from which Hash Browns are made and, indeed, the Tomato, the Haricot Beans which we use to make Baked (or, more accurately, Stewed) Beans were introduced to Europe from North America in Tudor times.
Now I know that sometimes I am a bit of a traditionalist but even I feel that 450 years is a sufficiently long time to give the beans a right to be included!
As for the Hash Browns I have discovered that it has been traditional (presumably since the aforementioned Tudor times) to throw into the breakfast mix any leftover potato from earlier meals and the Hash Brown is simply the current format for including some sort of potato dish. So, potato whether it is in the form of Potato Cakes, Bubble & Squeak or Hash Browns has the same historical right to be on the Full English plate as does the Baked Bean.
It now appears that the item with the least right to be there is Black Pudding – this being a regional variation which until fairly recently was confined almost exclusively to the north of the country. Even so, and I can’t understand why I’m being so damned reasonable here, I concede that anything breakfast related from any PART of England must count towards a “Full English”.
On second thoughts I’m probably being so damned reasonable because I do rather like Black Pudding – so there!
I do fully realise that just indicating the number of items is no guarantee of the quality of the breakfast and have learned over recent years to expect disappointment. This has been particularly the case with my annual fishing match, especially when we go to Dover (which means most years) where the County Hotel used to do its cooked breakfasts buffet-style. Of late however (and this MAY be because the amount of Bacon, Eggs etc. that can be consumed by 40 anglers preparing for a day on the harbour breakwater is absolutely phenomenal!) they have been serving up a small plate with one rasher of bacon, a greasy fried egg and a TINY sausage swimming about on it.
Consequently, my teammates and I have been skipping that altogether and going down the road to a small café called “The Fourth Musketeer” where for about £3 to £5 we partake of something called “the gutbuster” which is as substantial as it sounds.
I have to confess that I hardly ever now have a “traditional” Full English given that I still try to keep to the Slimming World diet that I was succeeding with prior to starting “on the road” contracting in October 2011. However I AM allowed many of the components – provided I have Scrambled Eggs, and that the Bacon is grilled rather than fried. The Beans, Tomatoes and Mushrooms are all allowed.
For that reason I haven’t been indulging in cooked breakfasts for the last two weeks since I asked and was told by the breakfast waitress lady that the Bacon and Eggs were always fried and no other options were available. Plus, of course, that they wanted to charge me £7 for the privilege! I stuck with Cornflakes and a Croissant thank you very much.
For the final week of this contract, however, I am back at the Pataks factory of AB World Foods in Leigh in Lancashire and THEY have a staff canteen that does Grilled Bacon, Scrambled Eggs, Beans and Mushrooms for the princely sum of £1.75.
I might just indulge!
PS. Oh, by the way, the definition given at the top of this article and marked “*” is complete and utter rubbish!