On my annual treks to England to visit my mum, I take every opportunity to enjoy the British cooking. Snide comments and even entire comedy routines focus on the idea that the English do not have good food. This concept is a myth, probably born of xenophobia. Anglo food is wonderful! I always look for a chance to get in at least one Full English Breakfast. This meal follows a similar formula no matter where it is served in the United Kingdom. The name is merely modified to suit the locale: English, Irish, Scottish or Welsh, and occasionally adapted to local traditions.
The basic menu is two eggs, usually fried sunny side up, or any way the diner desires, toast (lots of toast!) with butter and jams, sausage, the bacon of the UK which more closely resembles Canadian bacon than the American sort, baked beans, potatoes either fried or made into hash browns, grilled mushrooms and grilled tomato. This is accompanied by pots of tea or coffee and some fruit juice. The full breakfast is the staple of bed and breakfast morning fare.
More often in Scotland, Ireland and Wales I have been offered black pudding as well, which is blood sausage. Some turn their noses up at black pudding but I enjoy it, especially soaked in juice from the baked beans. The full breakfast is sometimes cooked completely on a grill (except for the beans) and features thick slices of grilled bread instead of toast. Grilling the bread also is more common outside of England.
The Full English Breakfast pictured above was served at a lovely bed and breakfast, the Denewood Hotel, in Boscombe near Bournemouth. Black pudding was not in the offerings there.
For me, a visit of Britain is not complete without a roast lamb dinner. Lamb is not so popular or well known here in America, although excellent fresh New Zealand lamb and locally sourced lamb is readily available to us. The best lamb is young, before it develops the strong smell of mutton. Nothing can beat good, young lamb for flavor and tenderness. It is truly delicious! To purchase the best lamb, choose smaller-sized cuts. Two little leg-of-lamb roasts are a better bet than one large one. The larger cuts are from older animals and more likely to have a sheep odor.
The British roast typically served includes the slow-roasted meat with its drippings gravy and large pieces of roast potatoes. On the side are massive bowls filled with a wide variety of carefully segregated cooked vegetables including carrots, turnips, parsnips, string beans, peas, squashes and various members of the brassica genus (my favorites are broccoli and savoy cabbage,) and occasionally Yorkshire pudding–pop-overs to us Americans.
After eating my fill of a roast dinner, I can never do justice to the dessert offerings. Just as well, since I should not have too much sugar. The roast dinner pictured was served at The Acorn pub and restaurant on The Square in Birchington, England. Sadly, this establishment will be closing soon as the owners are retiring. I can also heartily recommend the roast dinner at The Smuggler, another fine old eatery located on the Canterbury Road near the square in Birchington.