The Evolution of English Breakfast

It’s more fascinating than you ever thought possible.

The Full English is the one meal that England does well, with fat bangers, sizzling rashers and eggs oozing sunshine, strong tea and two buttered toast.

This is food that makes you feel good just thinking about it, a platter that pulls on the heartstrings (as well as straining the heart). It’s an icon of Englishness, as much of a symbol as the flag of St George, but here’s the thing: who really eats it these days?

Less than 1% of the population starts every day with a cooked breakfast, compared to the 1950s when it was more than half of us. I was thinking about this the other day, chewing (and chewing) my compulsory muesli while dreaming of bacon and eggs. If the full breakfast is so representative of the English, what does it say about us? And if our attitude to it has changed so much, what does “the Full English” really mean — not just in the sense of what is on the plate, but in terms of being fully English?


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