No matter where you go in the world, in most places which are popular with British tourists, you’ll find cafes and bars selling ‘a full English’. But when did this love affair with sausage, bacon, eggs and the rest start?
At Hugh Phillips Gower Butchers, we’ve looked into this and thought we’d share our findings with you.
History of the Full English
According to an article on the Great British Meat website, “the full English has come quite a long way since the mid 1800s when kidneys on toast, pheasant legs and pig cheeks were a common feature, but there’s still a lot of variation. The Scot’s add ‘tattie’ scones and occasionally a slice of haggis, those in the North Midlands opt for oatcakes instead of fried bread, the Welsh add laverbread (that’s seaweed), and the Irish include hog’s pudding and fried potatoes. Whichever variation you go for, there’s really no beating a good English fry up.
“Having a cooked breakfast was a novelty at first – the first cook books to reference the dish were written around 1860. As the availability of ingredients became more widespread, the full English became available to all classes who could afford a trip to their butcher.
“When WW2 happened, rationing happened. It was so long, farewell to the English breakfast as the salty, meaty goodness of sausages and bacon became a distant memory and cooked breakfasts were effectively restricted to a few slices of toast and the occasional boiled egg. Bleak times, eh.
“After we won the war and the rationing ceased, it was like we were suddenly in full Technicolour again, except Technicolour for our taste buds.
“Because we were so rationed, we had a more modest approach to returning to our old favourites. We still treasured our old full English ingredients, so much so that we restricted ourselves – this was a treasure to be given respect – so we ended up reserving this special dish for the weekends.
“Through the 20th century we fell in and out of love with the full English, we had periods where everyone was just too busy. Morning meals were simplified down to cereals, and then to biscuits in more recent times – the time to stand over a hob to do a fry up was just a thing of the past for a lot of us.” (Source)
The Full English Today
Today, we are a society more focussed on healthy living, particularly with many news features warning us of the dangers of fat, fried foods and too much salt in our diets.
However, we are also spending more time preparing our food, understanding what goes into it, and that tasty food isn’t always bad for us – and that includes many of the staples included in a traditional full English.
In fact, this family favourite is now seeing a rise in popularity for breakfast, brunch, lunch and supper, even among people who visit a gym frequently and those who take their health seriously. And one of the reasons for this is that a Full English is packed with protein which, as we all know, is a recommendation in a healthy diet.
Hugh Phillips Gower Butcher
At Hugh Phillips Gower Butcher, we pride ourselves on the quality of our meat products which are always sourced from the nearest farms where the animals are grass fed.
For example, when it comes to our bacon products, our qualified butchers prepare the loins of pork to the highest standards giving us the best product to start the dry curing process. With just the right amount of fat covering, each piece is hand rubbed and left to cure for 2 – 3 weeks. We then thick slice the bacon fresh to order guaranteeing lean bacon with no added water and very low in salt; so suitable for anyone following a low fat healthy lifestyle.
Similarly, our pork sausage recipe has been in our family for generations. We select cuts from the fore quarter and trim to 80% visual lean before mincing. This is then mixed with our secret recipe before being handmade into delicious lean meaty sausages. These will taste very different to the usual mass produced sausages you can buy. They are perfect for grilling or frying. We also sell beef sausages which are prepared in the same way and are very much sought after from people who are watching what they eat.
Combine these meat products with a plateful of mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, poached rather than fried eggs and some low salt beans, and you will have a meal full of protein and nutrients which also contribute to your essential five a day!