Full English

Or, when travelling in Ireland, the Full Irish, is a treat. I eat it when I get the opportunity because I enjoy it, because it is filling and keeps me going until lunchtime and beyond, because it is a nourishing start to the day, because it tastes good.

Not everyone agrees.

So why – why, oh why – do we shame it by lumping it, along with so many other fine specimens, in the dog’s dinner that is The Great British fry-up? This is the most overrated of British dishes, the scourge of the breakfast table, and the cruellest of ends for some of our finest produce. Even the name is shuddersome, unhealthy and redolent of all those Joliveresque expressions that revel in redundant prepositions – cook up, simmer down, brown off, fry up.

So, don’t eat it, then. Have your bland muesli if you must. Others of us can cook a tasty Full English that is far from a train wreck (and it’s certainly not a disgrace, whatever Ramsden proclaims in his rampant snobbery) –  and if you are cooking all of the ingredients the same way, then you probably ain’t doing it right. Being a versatile dish, with ingredients chosen by the chef of the day, not everything is necessarily fried. Some of it is grilled and some of it is simmered in a saucepan (I prefer the plum tomatoes for instance). But, either way, it is an institution because it works. The mix of tastes complement each other and roll around the tongue.

A fry-up forces them into greasy competition, salty fat against salty fat.

That’s the point; the wonderful all out assault on the taste buds and it works. If it didn’t, the dish wouldn’t have retained its popularity. But, then, it comes as no surprise that it is in the pages of the Guardian that we find yet another assault on both our national identity and a dish that makes us feel good. Many of us like the English fry-up. That’s good enough for me. After all, if we like it and eat it, it is no one else’s concern. Fatuous twats such as James Ramsden can go boil their heads. No one is forcing them to eat a fry up if they don’t want to. What the rest of us do is none of their concern.

H/T Dick Puddlecote.


  1. Some snotty frenchman once said…

    ” In order to eat well in England, it is nessessary to eat Breakfast three times a day” He must have missed the delights of lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper, but he wasn’t wrong. The Full English is the king of meals.

    From the age of 1 to 18, mine consisted of Porridge, then bacon, eggs, fried bread and tomato, some Black Pudding (my dad was a master butcher and made his own) then toast and Marmalade to follow. Accompanied by several cups of industrial strength tea. We were not posh enough for the Kedgerie or the deviled kidneys though. I’m 60 and fit as a flea, salt and fat mean nothing but enhanced taste to me. My blood pressure is normal (despite reading newspapers every day) my cholesterol is fine. I may just confound these killjoy buggers by living forever. My mum is 90 next year, and eats exactly the same stuff as me. Well it her who started me on it wasn’t it? 😉

  2. Or, when travelling in Ireland, the Full Irish, is a treat.

    Irish white pudding. ‘Nuff said.

    /Homer Simpson drool

  3. A reasonable guide to ‘proper’ F.E.B. – a small cafe with a large lorry park – full of large lorries.

    • That’s what I always looked out for when driving through France (I tend to avoid the péage autoroutes – the route nationale are so much nicer). A small restaurant with a two acre carpark full of trucks signifies good food at low prices. Great fun, too, even though my French isn’t too good. Very often trestle tables – grab a seat where you can, and join in the hubbub of conversation. Brilliant!

      I remember back in the 60s and 70s you could find transport caffs everywhere in UK. They were an institution. These days they seem to be few and far between. It’s a great shame.

  4. “a small cafe with a large lorry park – full of large lorries” – driven by large drivers.

    Arf arf.

  5. You’re avoiding the elephant in the room here.

    You say you like plum tomatoes, while I prefer cut in half and grilled or fried, but that is a minor issue.

    The contentious issue is, should a FEB be eaten with toast, chips or potato waffles? I know the purists say toast, but I can’t/won’t eat toast and I love chips, but I’m happy with waffles (even though I suspect that are some hideous foreign idea).

    As a bonus argument, is it acceptable to have coffee or other drink with your FEB, or does it have to be tea with milk?

    • toast, chips or potato waffles

      :O ….none of the above.

      Fried bread…. or it has no business calling itself “FEB”…and it must be tea you can stand a spoon in.

  6. There is no such thing as a bad dish. It all depends on how well it is done and how good the ingredients are. A bad fried breakfast is pretty horrible. One prepared with high quality ingredients is delicious. Don’t know why James Ramsden is getting annoyed. Very few people now eat fried breakfasts because we haven’t the time to prepare them and those of us in sedentary jobs don’t want to have so much food in us early in the morning. But on a walking holiday I will eat a friend breakfast with gusto. Though not the egg and tomato. I hate egg and tomato.

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