The other day I had a full English Breakfast.
Well, when I say "full" that isn't quite true; it was missing the grilled tomato & the black pudding. For the record, 3 fried eggs, 2 sausages, 2 hash browns, 2 slices of brown buttered toast, baked beans, mushrooms, and 3 rashers of bacon (so crispy that I could use them as a weapon). The rationale regarding the missing items is that I don't think fruit should be cooked, and I don't like the idea of eating a "pudding" who's principal ingredient is blood. The blood thing is a little odd, I have to admit. I would gladly consume bone marrow and liver pate. Perhaps it's down to the fact that I have seen my own blood and not my own bone marrow or liver.
It was paired with a pot of Earl Grey tea, with lemon & not milk; I'm not an animal.
As predicted by myself, it was delightful.
Afterwards I was pondering, which is all you are capable of doing, having eaten such a large breakfast. I recalled all the places I have eaten an English Breakfast. Obviously in multiple locations within the United Kingdom, but also in multiple countries around the World. Regarding the UK incidents, almost all of those were in hotels. There seems to be an unwritten rule that when in a hotel, you are duty bound to order an English Breakfast for breakfast. Sure, there is the "continental" breakfast, but to be brutally honest, you are viewed as a cheap-skate if you pursue that particular option.
Regarding the other worldwide locations, they were equally lovely, although on occasion it would be fair to describe them as "best efforts". I mean, in Thailand, Lincolnshire sausages are a little light on the ground. Although the eggs were extra special.
If you are wondering where this discussion on English Breakfasts is going, then I can assure you, you are not alone.
I like the notion that there is a meal that has a special status. I'm not saying that it is in any way better than other meals. I would, for example, say that a medium rare fillet steak with bone marrow (still in the bone), is far better. But I think we can agree that it certainly has a special status. Wherever you are, if you ask for a Full English Breakfast, there is a basic understanding as to what that entails. Sure, there are interpretations, but the essence is there. It is an omnipresent dish.
As we travel through our lives, we participate in a ride that is enjoyable, scary, full of twists and turns, but it is a ride that we are on if we like it or not.
As I sit in this location, writing this, my behaviour and interaction with others is most definitely influenced by the surroundings. The social setting creates an appropriate number of boundaries and social norms. In general, those norms are helpful. That is, though, not always the case. In other settings, these conventions are in place to manipulate and control you. In the worst setting, they are in place to pro-actively discriminate against entire groups of people.
This social pressure to conform, or adjust ourselves, can be helpful, but often creates a negative force of change. We are passively manipulated into changing our behaviour to match it. This low-level continuous action coerces our psyche.
In essence, our location and social setting, starts to define us. If you participate in a social group, this can actually help to oil the wheels of interaction. What happens though, if you are extracted from that group and find yourself on your own?
Something that I have given far too much thought to is this. If I was standing in a field, (I tend to choose a field of wheat on a delightful summer afternoon with fluffy clouds gliding across a cyan-blue sky), then who am I?
Specifically, do I have a sense of my own identity? Can I define myself without reference to others?
To be sure, this isn't a mediatory requirement, but I do believe that it is an indicator as to your positive mental health.
Having a sense of your own identity leads to a sense of your own self-worth. This can inform how you choose to interact with others, but it can also act as a kind of default position; a point of reference.
If you take a plate and add the following items to it, 3 fried eggs, 2 sausages, 2 hash browns, 2 slices of brown buttered toast, baked beans, mushrooms, and 3 rashers of bacon (so crispy, that they could be used as a weapon); you have an English Breakfast.
If you go into a hotel in Singapore and ask for an English Breakfast, you will get a close approximation of that.
It is, in essence, a universal dish.
The definition of the English Breakfast isn't determined by its location or social setting. Its ingredients define it. An English Breakfast in America isn't a salmon omelette with avocado.
As we look at ourselves, we often define ourselves by our location and social setting. On one level, that is helpful, but on a deeper level, I don't believe it is helpful; if that setting changes or disappears, then we can be lost.
My dear readers, in conclusion, if we want to be mentally healthy, we should view ourselves as English Breakfasts.
I'm a carbon-unit who writes; a Carbon Writer. Life & culture are my default topics, mixed with a little English wit & sarcasm. Full of mostly true stories, I occasionally remember to write them down. Found in a crowd, or contemplating in a corner. Habit of talking to anyone. Author.
- Nigel Derbyshire