The All Day Breakfast: Tradition At U.K. Cafes

A.A. Milne – that beloved creator of the tales from the 100 Acre Wood where Pooh Bear and his friends greeted each day with delight (except for Eeyore – he was terribly depressed) once had Piglet ask Pooh what the first thing he said in the morning, to which the bear with very little brain (as per the author) said ‘ what’s for breakfast?’

In the U.K. there is a tradition which makes this an important question – not only when the sun has just peaked above the horizon – but throughout the day. This is because of the English Cafe tradition of the ‘all-day breakfast.’

What is it that has kept the ‘All Day Breakfast’ on menus, like here at CafĂ© Strand Falmouth UK, and throughout Great Britain? In part, the popularity of the meal is that it offers an enormous number of calories for a fair price – it is simply perfect for those who want the energy to face the day. It doesn’t hurt that it is a delight for those who love traditional savoury delights.

The ingredients of the traditional all-day breakfast may vary according to which Cafe serve it – but there are several core components which remain standard. So what can you expect to see on your plate when you order this all day delight -otherwise known by its alternative name – the traditional ‘fry up’.

The first (and one would say essential) component is the humble egg – served fried. Accompanying these must, of course, be the sausages and toast. Of course, there should be fried tomatoes and mushrooms, as well as back bacon. Baked beans also serve to round out the offering. For many, the addition of ‘Black Pudding’ (if one thinks of bloodwurst then one gets a good idea of the texture and taste) is a requirement that adds excitement to an already wonderful meal. Additional items such as hash browns may find their way onto the plate. The entire meal needs copious amounts of tea or coffee to add that final touch to a great culinary experience.

However, as mentioned there are variants to the traditional all-day breakfast – many of those dependent on where one chooses to enjoy the meal. In Ireland one may be presented with soda bread on the plate, while in Scotland a potato scone and perhaps some haggis might also accompany the other components of the meal.

In times past, the breakfast might also have included such items as kippers, cold meats such as tongue and some kidneys to round out the offering. these are still available – but the traditional English all-day breakfast has been refined to its essence today. It is available at Cafes to across the United Kingdom – and is one of the mainstays of British cuisine. In days past there were only a couple of meals a day – breakfast being among those – so it would have to be substantial. Although estimates vary, the average all-day breakfast delivers in the region of 1,100 calories (2 bacon, 2 sausage, mushrooms, hash brown, beans, fried egg, toast, tomatoes, coffee/tea) so it certainly contains enough to power one though the day. However – it also delivers a hefty amount of fat at the same time – so this is not a meal that should be enjoyed every day – it is more of a treat.

The all-day breakfast has remained one of the most beloved of English traditions. It has stood the test of time – and it is a delight for those who want to immerse themselves in English Cafe culture. For those who find themselves in the U.K., it is an experience that should be savoured at least once.