The good ol’ English breakfast

It’s a well-known fact that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. It provides the energy you need to start the day right. I must confess that for most of my life, breakfast was a quick milky coffee and out the door I went. That is not a proper meal but I was never hungry first thing in the morning. Now that I’m older and hopefully wiser, I eat a nutritious brekkie every day.

I try to eat healthy at home. However, when we are travelling, I eat food that I do not normally prepare at home like scrambled eggs and bacon or pancakes. We burn the extra calories walking and exploring. Or trekking, which is what we did every weekend when we lived in Jersey. We loved walking along cliff paths. The scenery is simply breathtaking.

A bracing walk along the cliffs of Jersey puts you in the mood for a fry-up
A bracing walk along the cliffs of Jersey puts you in the mood for a fry-up

During one of these treks, we ended up in a tiny bay called Grève de Lecq. There was enough room for a minuscule car park and a no-frills café called Colleen’s. Fresh air, bracing exercise, beautiful scenery and a hearty meal afterwards in the sun with the newspapers. I can’t think of a better way to spend a Sunday morning.

The first time I ordered a full English breakfast, or fry-up, I ordered coffee. My husband suggested I drink tea instead because it helps break down the fat. And it’s the British thing to do. I did the “Mary, Mary quite contrary” thing and drank my coffee. I never told my husband I suffered from bad indigestion the rest of the day. From then on, tea it was!


The full English breakfast combo I had was back bacon, eggs, baked beans, toast with butter and jam and stewed tomato or mushrooms. And tea, of course. Other traditional components are sausages, black pudding, fried bread and chips. It seems like a lot of artery-clogging food but I don’t mind it as an occasional treat. This kind of meal made sense at a time when people did a lot of physical work, like working down the mines or in the fields.

According to the English Breakfast Society, the tradition of the full English breakfast started with the gentry, who used this meal to display the wealth of their estate. In Victorian times, the upwardly mobile middle classes wanted to emulate the gentry and adopted this civilized custom. At the same time, during the Industrial Revolution, the working classes started to eat a hearty meal before going about their backbreaking business. They needed all the energy they could get.

I would never have thought that there was so much history behind a meal I sometimes take for granted.

What’s your favourite breakfast food?

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