Thank you for breakfast, England

Loaded with fried and fatty deliciousness, the Full English Breakfast is most definitely the father of the American diner breakfast.


Both are widely available, often around the clock, and full of staples more filling than nutritious. In fact, the British seem to have a complex about their love of a good fry-up that equals the stereotype of Americans as McDonald’s-loving slobs. Fatty food is universally loved and shamed.

The McDonald’s stereotype comes from the same place as the Coca-Cola stereotype: both are well-loved American brands that have had great success overseas. Europeans love McDonald’s and then feel as bad about it as we do.

History shows us with the fry-up that the classic artery-buster lives on in unbranded form with no need for the Golden Arches’ marketing savvy. Fat is its own marketing.

Compare the core ingredients:

Full English

  • Two fried eggs
  • Back bacon
  • Rashers (sausages)
  • Deep-fried Hash browns
  • Toast
  • Grilled tomato
  • Stewed mushrooms
  • Coffee

American

  • Two fried eggs
  • Bacon, sausage or ham
  • Pancakes with syrup or
  • Hash browns and Toast
  • Coffee
  • Orange juice
  • Fresh fruit if you’re lucky

Note the similarities: eggs, fatty meat, fried potatoes, coffee. We can thank Peru for the spuds and Ethiopia for the beans, I guess. Four centuries are enough to make them both a staple of half the countries on the globe.

Interestingly, instead of fresh fruit, the English variety has tomatoes. Hey, tomato is a fruit, right?

Perhaps the idea of the bottomless “super-size” started with US diner coffee, strong European roast being substituted for the watery American free-refill variety.

The stateside version is not all lacking in quality, however. The American breakfast plate incorporates syrup, real maple ideally, from Vermont, New York, or Quebec, and orange juice, fresh-squeezed California or Florida if you’re lucky.

Drawing its inspiration from around the globe, this classic American meal is uniting in its ubiquity, not only a working man’s meal like its progenitors in the Old World, and it is here to stay, at least for add long as we’re around to eat it.

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