Sunday, January 24, 2010

Breakfast of Champions

It's Sunday morning, the birds are chirping, the sun is shining and God is definitely smiling down upon us in Maida Vale.  I've just had a bowl of granola and a poached egg prior to my yoga class in Covent Garden and John has made himself a lovely concoction of bacon atop a poached egg nestling comfortably atop a piece of freshly baked granary bread (by freshly baked, I mean it was still warm when I picked it up from Tesco Metro this morning).  This reminded me of one of my favorite meals of the day in both the US and UK - breakfast.  In the States, anything goes for breakfast, ranging from the healthy to downright disgusting (granola and yogurt, fruit bowl, Cap'n Crunch cereal to leftover pizza, donuts, and highly calorific iced muffins).  I'm interested in the cooked breakfast.  Traditionally at my house, my dad makes a cooked breakfast, made to order, for whoever wants one.  It usually consists of a thick piece of ham, two eggs and toast.

For some reason, during my last trip home, I became enamored with Denny's French Toast Slam.  I had it for breakfast about four consecutive days in a row.  Pretty disgusting.
 It doesn't even look appetizing, but for some reason, I really needed it.  Two slices (or is it more?) of French Toast, watery syrup, two slices of bacon and two eggs.  Whoever said good things come in pairs was wrong - I think I almost threw up in the Denny's parking lot after the third day of French Slam overdose.  But I still kept going back for more.

Now there are plenty of other cafes and diners in the US that do amazing cooked breakfasts with as many varieties as possible.  I've been to some of those and enjoyed every moment of it.  The Brits - well, they don't seem to do varieties in general.  Maybe they don't believe in them, I don't know.  But I find that the British tend to find one thing they're really good at and perfect it - then serve it everywhere.

Behold the cooked "full English breakfast."

This one actually looks healthy.  And yes, my fellow Americanos - those are baked beans in the upper right corner.  But seriously, don't knock it till you've tried it.  It's delicious.  At first, I didn't know what to do with the random tomato and mushrooms either, but I soon learned (I'll skip the black pudding, thanks.  And the fried bread, while you're at it).  And I'm pretty sure it has something from every food group - just fried beyond recognition, that's all.  When I was studying abroad at Oxford, I didn't understand what the students meant by "getting down to the Greasy Spoon" as soon as possible to cure their hangovers.  I thought "Greasy Spoon" was the name of the cafe in town, unaware that this was the terminology used to describe every downmarket cafe that serves full English breakfasts.  Washed down with a cup of milky English tea and you've got the perfect hangover or Sunday blues solution.  If you're looking for a good fry-up in London with a bit of market ambiance, I recommend Maria's Market Cafe, located in Borough Market.  My favorite English breakfasts have always been the home-cooked ones at various B&B's I've stayed at in and around Scotland and England.

When it comes down to it, you can't really compare the UK and US breakfasts and come out declaring a winner.  One has, again, creativity and variety, while the other has the same, comforting standard that has been perfected over decades of practice.


  1. I was obsessed with the British breakfast when I first arrived here but I think I've reached the point where I can't stand it anymore. It's just ALWAYS the same thing everywhere!
    I am, however, dreaming of breakfast tacos and real banana pancakes with maple syrup and real crispy bacon and free coffee refill pretty much every morning. (sigh)

  2. Mmm ... banana pancakes ... I totally agree.

  3. Lucky guys, not having to worry about a waistline (or cholesterol).

  4. Chris (and I know this is you!), I do worry about my waistline and cholestrol, but I can't help but indulge. I try to do it in moderation, which I guess is what we all do!

  5. Who's Chris, for God's sake?


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