The Full English Breakfast
The Full English Breakfast is a British tradition. Today I visit London’s Borough Market to choose the finest ingredients for this traditional breakfast recipe. There are also many greasy spoon cafes here in London serving delicious inexpensive breakfasts.
If you want to try the Best Greasy Spoon café in London’s Full English Breakfast you need to visit The Regency Cafe.
However today I’m making my own and I’ll show you how to make your own.
A British tradition
Traditionally a cooked breakfast was the preserve of only the rich. And so the wealthy would use Breakfast as an opportunity to show off to guests with a huge table full of dishes to choose from.
Only during the industrial revolution did it became not only possible and rather more of a necessity for the working classes. A hearty breakfast before a full day’s manual labour was required to get you through the day. A Full English Breakfast is a perfect start to a hard days work.
So by the 1950’s the traditional spread of dishes that only the wealthy once enjoyed became breakfast for the masses. Only the multiple dishes had become a one plate wonder that we now know as the Full English Breakfast.
We Brits however cannot agree on exactly what constitutes a Full English Breakfast. And everywhere you go you will find variations in what exactly is served and how it is cooked. Nor can we agree the best cooking method of the ingredients. To keep it simple the Full English Breakfast at any other time of day other than breakfast is known as the Fry-up. So as the name Fry-up would suggest, one big frying pan is all you need. Everything for my Full English Breakfast will be fried over a medium heat in a frying pan with a little butter.
The three key ingredients of the Full English Breakfast most would agree on are Sausage, Bacon and eggs. The list of additions people like to add to these is long and includes:
Baked beans, Black pudding, Bone marrow, Bread and butter, Bubble and squeak, Chips or French fries, English Muffins, Hash browns, Liver or Kidneys, Mushrooms, Onions, Toasted bread, Tomatoes and White pudding.
My Full English breakfast Recipe
Today I’m keeping my breakfast traditional with English ingredients. Sausage, Bacon, eggs with the addition of black pudding, mushrooms, tomatoes and bread and butter. And Borough Market is the perfect place to find amazing British ingredients.
The Ginger Pig Butchers
First I head to the Ginger pig butchers for the meat. They have black pudding and an amazing selection of bacon and sausages. The secret to a great British breakfast is to get both back and streaky bacon. I get smoked bacon and old spot sausages today.
The Ginger Pig began over 20 years ago, with a near-derelict farmhouse and just three Tamworth pigs. They now farm over 3,000 acres of pasture and North Yorkshire moorland to supply their London butchers’ shops.
I get the bread for breakfast from the bread ahead market stall. The bread ahead bakery is also at borough market. The bakery is also home to the Bread Ahead Bakery School, which offers a range of baking and pastry skills courses for both amateurs and professionals.
Bread Ahead has many fans here in London. And in particular for their renowned doughnuts.
Neil’s yard dairy
I visit Neil’s yard dairy for butter and fresh eggs. Neil’s yard dairy have an impressive selection of butters. The store is arguably London’s most popular cheesemongers.
Supplying London with farmhouse cheese from the UK and Ireland. The cheesemongers encourage you to have a taste of some cheese and will then guide you through your purchases.
Turnips Borough market
For today’s breakfast I’m having tomatoes and mushrooms. So there is nowhere better than turnips to find them. While the supermarkets are competing on price rather than taste, great tasting produce is a rarely grown commodity.
Turnips originally wholesaled the best British fruit and vegetables to London’s very finest restaurants. As Borough Market became more retail over the last two decades so did turnips. And today they have a phenomenal selection of the finest vegetables grown here in Britain.
The choice of mushrooms looks amazing and I buy one of their selection boxes. Also equally impressive is the variety of tomatoes on offer. Today I get some black skinned tomatoes which look interesting.
To see me cooking all this amazing produce check out the video at the top of the post.
The first records of Borough market and the church next door that is today Southwark cathedral date back to the medieval period. The market was a little further along the river in a church yard. But probably due to development and building work moved out into the main road borough high street in the 1500’s.
Right at the end of London bridge one of the river Thames major crossings its a great spot for a market. However also been a busy road in 1691 the market was ordered to only operate on one side of the road to ease congestion. But by the 1750’s the increase in horse drawn coaches, carts and carriages meant the congestion had become so bad that parliament abolished the street market in 1755.
London Bridge Station
So in 1755 the market moved off the street to the churchyard onto a piece of land called the triangle where it remains today. In 1862 during the construction of London bridge station the train tracks were built that run right over the market and you can see the huge green pillars that hold up the train viaduct above.
Obviously the market protested but the train tracks won. However the train companies did compensate the market by building market buildings and from then on the market became covered and no longer open to the rain.
Ultimately the market developed in to London’s main fruit and veg wholesale market supplying London’s independent grocers. However the rise of the supermarket post World War 2 saw the demise of independent grocers and street markets all over the UK and especially here in London.
By the 1990’s the market was struggling and looked almost derelict in places. Also during this decade a new wave of wholesales that supplied restaurants speciality food and ingredients moved into the warehouses. The likes of Bridisa and Neal’s yard dairy who are still here today. They hosted odd retail events and in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s an artisan food market was began. Originally opening to the public just one Saturday a month.
The new direction for Borough Market proved popular. Demand for something other than the supermarkets offered was here. So pretty quickly borough market developed and grew. Now arguable Britain’s most renowned speciality food market and one of the best in Europe and the world today.
Borough Market opens Monday – Saturday and shut on Sundays. Except on special occasions like the Sunday before Christmas. Also being surrounded by restaurants open all week you will always find something to eat.
Best day to visit?
The busiest day at Borough Market is Saturday. Obviously the traders know this, so have the most stuff on offer. So I visit mainly on Saturday’s and by lunch time you can’t move for people it’s the best day to come, people make markets.
Coffee at Borough Market
No trip to Borough Market would be complete without coffee. Monmouth Coffee is hugely popular. Selling freshly brewed cups of coffee and also whole and ground beans for you to brew at home. The coffee is so popular the queue runs down the road on Saturdays, luckily the line moves pretty quickly.
Check out our Spanish inspired trip to Borough Market here.
Check out another of our visits for some of the best food and drink in London here.
Finally for opening time check out Borough Markets website: www.boroughmarket.org.uk