Standardising the English breakfast

James Chudley
6 min readFeb 18, 2016
Elements of the ‘core’ with some welcome ‘enhancements’.

The classic English breakfast needs to be standardised

It’s simply getting out of hand.

We need to make some rules.

It needs to be policed.

I’m proposing defining a ‘core’ and then a list of allowable ‘enhancements’.

To count as a ‘Full English’ you must deliver at least the core.

The ‘core’

Sausage/s

There must be at least one and don’t mess about with chipolatas. If it’s shorter than the height of your tea mug send it right back.

Fancy sausages are fine but are a false economy as you’ll generally only get one of them. You expect dirty sausages with a Full English and if they double them up, then you’re onto a winner.

Sausages can be used as a barrier between chips and beans to prevent cross contamination. Make them work for you while you devour everything else.

Egg/s

This is the only contribution you’d expect a chicken to make to a breakfast.

Thinking about it a breakfast is all pigs and chickens. The cow provides the milk for the tea. Sheep are not involved.

Permitted formats included fried, scrambled and poached.

A boiled egg has no place within a Full English. It is a stand alone alternative to cereal.

Everyone knows that.

On rare occasions you may be offered a mix of egg formats. Embrace and enjoy it, it may only happen once in a lifetime. You could sit a fried above a foundation of scrambled for example.

Let your hair down.

The fried egg is all about the yolk. Its job is to provide a natural condiment for dipping purposes. The yolk must be runny. If it’s hard, back she goes. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect a double fried egg . A flipped egg reflects a bold chef and is to be applauded.

A good poached egg is the work of a craftsman, embrace it. Beware of water ingress from over zealous application of a poached egg. Plate flooding can be mitigated by sandbagging with a sacrificial sausage.

Scrambled eggs are the least glamorous egg format, an unsung hero.

Bacon

An absolute must have and a key player in the breakfast. If the breakfast were a band the bacon is the lead singer. A crowd pleaser, a turner of vegetarians, a true sign that the pig has fully committed to the party.

You expect (and should get) a double rasher. You’ll have noticed that in fancy breakfast they try and fob you off with a single rasher. I won’t stand for this.

The jury is out on the back vs streaky debate but I’d like to encourage a double back scenario.

Crispy rind is a must as it brings a bit of crackling to the breakfast arena.

Potato based component

The introduction of the potato in various formats is a relatively recent but welcome addition to the Full English.

Acceptable formats include chips & hash browns.

A hash brown is a delighter. Not expected but an absolute joy when they appear.

Hash browns should always come in pairs and with the chips you’re looking for volume. Chips provide ballast & bulk. You won’t see them feature in a low end breakfast. Chippage varies hugely and I know nothing compared to this guy who when it comes to chips, really knows his onions.

Beans

Beans are an essential lubricant. They are a facilitator and ease the passage of the bulky elements such as the chips.

Presentation of beans is problematic due to plate dispersal, hence the recent innovation of bean containment within a ramekin or small bowl. A poorly positioned pool of beans can easily violate your chips (see layout).

I welcome bean containment. It offers the diner the choice to keep them locked up or to set them free.

A low quality bean is a false economy that will ruin everything. Avoid it.

Toast

You should be be guaranteed either a rack of toast or 2 triangular pieces at the east and west of the plate. It goes without saying that butter and jam / marmalade should also be available.

Ideally butter will come wrapped in gold paper so you can warm it up a bit to help spreadage by popping it under your toast. As with the sausage sand bagging technique to control bean flooding, you should make your breakfast work for you.

Pro’s leave a piece until last for plate cleaning purposes.

Acceptable ‘enhancements’

Mushrooms

Mushrooms are a classic enhancer, either chopped or whole. They don’t bring a huge amount to the party but are nice fungal touch.

Grilled tomatoes

I’m in two minds about this one. The grilled tomato is perhaps the most frequently uneaten component of the breakfast. It’s there for show. It doesn’t have a job to do but adds a bit of colour so it’s in.

Bubble & squeak

This is like when you get cauliflower cheese with a roast. A meal with another meal added. It’s totally unnecessary but to be taken full advantage of when available.

Fried bread

Becoming a bit of a rarity but to be demolished when seen. Proper old school filth.

Get out of town

Black pudding

No one knows what really goes into it and no one really want to know what goes into it. It’s like a big wheel of death on the plate.

White pudding

Like a feeble excuse for a vegetarian black pudding. See above.

Plum tomatoes

Inexcusable in my book. They look and taste awful and case all sorts of flooding issues. Absolutely no need.

Tomatoes on the vine

They have no place on a breakfast. A warning signal of a gentrified breakfast and to be avoided at all costs.

Parsley

Get in the sea.

Beverages

You need either a tea of a coffee to ease it down. Fruit teas are an obvious no no. Beverages should be taken from a mug. Glass mugs are out, you shouldn’t be able to see a hot drink from the side.

Orange juice is permissible but unnecessary and be very careful if you’ve just brushed your teeth.

Plate

Plates should be round or oval and ceramic. Wood and slate are for construction and have no place in food delivery.

Layout

Layout will vary. The east / west triangular toast formation is a classic with eggs typically being delivered upon the toast when in fried format.

Bean positioning is a biggie that is less of an issue if contained of course. Unrestrained beans too close to chips can be disastrous.

Fried egg positioning can be tactical based on what you want the yolk to mix with. Tread carefully here.

Order of play

I think this will be influenced by layout but really it’s a free for all. I used to favour saving the egg yolk for a form of final hoorah but this was often frowned upon.

The big ticket items such as bacon and sausage are bound to attract early interest and if you leave a scrambled egg until too late in the game its going to be cold, so be smart.

Portion size

It’s called a ‘Full English’ for a reason. It’s supposed to fill you up.

An ideal approach is the ‘Noah’s Arc’. Everything paired up (bacon, eggs, sausages, hash browns). The beans are the flood.

Condiments

Ketchup and brown sauce, from a bottle or some sort of refillable receptacle is ideal. Mustard and mayonnaise have nothing to offer until later in the day.

Accompaniments

Any Full English is enhanced by simultaneously reading a paper or doing a crossword. This is perfection.

I can only hope that this will help to solve what has become a situation that is clearly out of control.

Don’t agree with my synopsis? Leave a comment.

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James Chudley

Experience Director @cxpartners | UX | Product | Photography