FULL FRY: eggs, a rasher, bangers,puds,taters,’maters and toast

Dr. Samuel Johnson said of Scottish meals that to eat well is to eat breakfast three times a day. Traditional Irish fare isn’t so much different than that of their neighbor, sharing the same trends of culinary history. As many of you know who traveled in Europe, there are some countries that have traditionally made foods such an art form that the population lives to eat rather than eats to live and maybe that’s not a bad thing. I can say with some degree of certainty, though, that food in Ireland WAS (rapidly changing as more and more are becoming real foodies) hearty, nourishing , tasty, but not “fancy” or particularly diverse. This is especially so for the IRISH BREAKFAST aka the FULL FRY. I also heard it called the “Chub”. When you see what everyone eats, maybe you’ll figure out where the name came from.

No matter where I stayed, whether it was above Swords in Skerries, or in the midlands in County Longford or on the coast near Galway and the Arran Islands, breakfast was a meal you could bet on as being standard fare, filling and fresh but almost unchanging. A typical breakfast included coffee or tay (tea), orange juice, bangers, a rasher, fresh eggs any way you want them, two kinds of puddings and a tomato slice, grilled or not. There was also fresh jam and bread. Don’t get me wrong, it was delicious, no question, but it amazed me then as it amazes me now that it was almost like a catholic school uniform, except this is food. I was almost half expecting to see some regional variation like salmon or mutton pies from last night’s sheep, oatmeal anyone? Not! I have to back up and say there were some places, notably in the Burrens where Campbell beans was served. I guess this was so you could later jet propel yourself through the ruins and the craigs. I saw less potatoes in Ireland than here but when I did, mostly they were fried and on the breakfast plate.

The bangers were yum, not like our little link sausages stuffed with “something” covered over with sage. They were fulsome in the mouth  and savory. Eggs where so fresh that one would thing they shot out of the chicken’s butt straight  to your plate :o). So you think black and white puddings  as dessert? Sweet?? It ain’t you mama’s chocolate pudding, not on your life. The black pudding which I preferred was made from beef  blood, fillers and spices while the white is mostly pork fat, fillers and spices(Beats the German “Mett” which is their idea of breakfast Steak tartare).  Breads were from Wonderbread to artisan breads that were crusty but soft on the inside.

The biggest thing that surpised me was the inevitable tomato, served on every dish. I never thought the Irish really concentrated on Love-apples but they are a national favorite. I figure they came to Ireland with the Armada survivors since European distribution of this South American fruit was through the Spanish. If anyone knows why tomatoes are such a popular breakfast food over there, let me know.

Homemade jams and jellys were something I looked foward to and each B and B had their own specialties.

Here’s a Currant jam recipe I’ve had from Ms. Wiley, a local teacher, who is of Irish descent. She had said this was her irish great Grandmother’s recipe.

  • 1 pound black currants, picked over and stemmed 1-1/2 cups water 2 pounds sugar

Simmer the black currants with the water for 1 hour. They will be very soft. Add the sugar and simmer the mixture, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes longer, until the jam is set. To test the jam, place a spoonful on a plate, place the plate in the freezer for a minute to let the jam cool, then look at it. If it looks like jam, it is done. If it is too runny, keep cooking it until thick. Pot the jam in sterilized jars while still hot, or store it in the refrigerator in a very clean jar with a tight fitting lid, for up to 2 weeks. 

Ok, it’s half way to St. Patty’s day so that’s breakfast.