A full English breakfast or “Greasy Fry Up” is a very popular breakfast in the British Isles. It usually consists of bacon, blood sausage and eggs, tomato slices, baked beans and toast that is fried in the leftover fat in the pan.
The meal is regarded as a staple of traditional English cuisine. W. Somerset Maugham stated, “To eat well in England you should have breakfast three times a day.” Many British cafés and pubs serve the meal at any time as an “all-day breakfast”. Other common names for the dish include bacon and eggs, or the fry-up. Variants include the full English, full Scottish, full Welsh and full Irish breakfasts and the Ulster fry.
It’s standard fare for taxi and lorry drivers, which is a real problem. They eat this monstrously calorically heavy breakfast and then drive around all day packing on the pounds!
One of the crazier things we did while living in London, was to visit the historic 800 year old Smithfield Market at 3am to see it in full swing. It’s the main meat and poultry market house in three listed buildings in the city of London. I remember going with flash lights (or torches as the Brits would say) walking through very thick fog to get there. It was downright Dickensian in atmosphere.
The thing to do is to tour the market between 3 and 6 am and then stumble over to one of the few local pubs allowed to stay open at that hour, to service the market workers just coming off their shift. Remember, in the old days (not so long ago!), English pubs had strict licensing hours and could not stay open all night, except for ones granted special hours like the ones around Smithfield market. After touring the market—if you still had a stomach for it (and if anything will make a vegetarian out of you, this will)—you could nip into a pub like the Fox and Anchor in Charterhouse Street and get a pint of beer and a full English. Half of the patrons were actual market workers (a little bloodied around the edges) and the other half were City workers in their pinstripes and braces setting themselves up for a day in a different market, the stock exchange. And then there were a few people like us…. I was pregnant at the time, and heading on to work so I did not have a pint, but we did have an excellent English fry-up with all the trimmings. My black sausage and several other bits made it onto my husband’s plate, but I thoroughly enjoyed the bacon and eggs!