Unlike other meals, British breakfast starts with something sweet, progresses to something savoury and finishes with something sweet. Hot drinks are drunk during the meal unlike lunch and dinner when hot drinks are served afterwards.
Breakfast should start with cereal of some sort which includes porridge. That’s a whole hornet’s nest of differing opinion – porridge made with milk – or made with water? With salt added – or sugar – both are acceptable but some prefer jam or treacle (golden syrup – the only brand is Tate and Lyle, ‘from the strong comes forth sweetness’ with the picture of the swarm of bees within the dead lion)
Fruit… grapefruit is a classic component of breakfast, cut in half, red, pink or the traditional yellow, with sugar if you must but quite unnecessary. Sometimes grapefruit is sprinkled with brown sugar and then put under the grill to caramelise – but this is usually served at dinner as a strange sort 1970’s starter, or dessert. Fruit segments, oranges, tangerines etc., or dried fruit, figs, prunes, pears and apricots are often enjoyed, but nothing is quite as good as fresh fruits of the season, straight from the tree in your garden:
There is an almost unlimited amount of breakfast dishes to follow. The classic fried breakfast traditionally includes any or all of the following: fried eggs, bacon grilled or fried, sausages, black pudding, kidneys, fried bread, fried mashed potato, fried chipped potatoes (not chips but left over cold potatoes fried up) fried or grilled tomatoes, fried mushrooms (sliced or whole) baked beans, toast.
Recently imports such as hash browns have appeared and rosti – which is an alien form of fried mashed potato or green-less bubble and squeak. Pancakes – not the sort you would have on pancake day but large scotch pancakes or dropped scones are also served – sometimes even with maple syrup.
Traditional accompaniments are tomato sauce (Heinz), brown sauce (family preferences of HP, Daddy’s or OK sauce) or mustard.
Eggs on their own or with bacon may be scrambled or poached – and poached in boiling water or in a poaching pan, although some would claim these are coddled whereas coddled eggs would have a lid upon the container. Boiled eggs served with soldiers and salt and pepper are also a favourite. Omelettes are not traditional breakfast fair but may please some people.
Sausages as has been discussed earlier should only be the best and may be served with thin gravy and mustard – although some prefer tomato or brown sauce.
Mushrooms can be served in a cream sauce, made to individual recipes, fried tomatoes on toast with salt and pepper. Tomatoes are also delicious, preferably fresh as tinned tomatoes are just not the same and can be too wet, even when fried.
Kedgeree – a fine breakfast dish but rarely served I suppose; saffron rice (or turmeric will do, or curry powder) smoked haddock, boiled eggs… some may add a dollop of mayonnaise or cream or crème fraiche, some may use other smoked fish, salmon or smoked mackerel maybe. Kippers are a great breakfast dish, served with bread and butter (not margarine) Some people may like smoked haddock with an optional poached egg but to me that is more of a light supper dish. Some people may even have fresh herring, which is delicious if available, roes – soft or hard, on toast, fresh or smoked mackerel.
Hot sandwiches of various sort can also be enjoyed – with toast or bread – bacon, sausage, egg, black pudding, any of these or several or all of these are delicious but toast or bread must be spread with butter (unless you are in Bert’s Café or somewhere similar, in which case it is acceptable to have margarine especially on thick white sliced bread.
After the cooked element of breakfast, or if the cooked breakfast is not required, toast and marmalade is ideal. Jam is a preference of some people, honey too, and instead of toast some might prefer rolls, brioche, croissants, pain au chocolat, challah, bagels there is a fantastic range of breakfast breads. Some people enjoy crumpets which technically are afternoon fare, and those on diets might like crisp-breads of various sorts, the traditional and old favourite being Ryvita.
Drinks: many people drink fruit juice, fresh, bottled, from cartons… there are so many to choose from and with a vast range of exotic fruits now available. Smoothies are also popular, home made may include vegetables as well as fruit but this seems perverse. Tea or coffee… coffee to me is the breakfast drink but many people would only drink tea at this time. Tea on waking or first thing… for me sitting down to breakfast there has to be an abundance of coffee. In France they drink hot chocolate of a particular sort, but that is not really a suitable breakfast drink, an indulgence if you ask me.