Each February and March is a special time for rugby lovers in Europe. During this period is held the Six Nations championship. The competing countries are the four “Home” nations of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland (in this sport, North and South Ireland play as a unified team) plus France and Italy. The tournament has a long history; it started as a Home Championship in 1883, with France being added in 1910 and Italy in 2000, and there is significant national pride at stake.
During the 25 years I lived in London, it was all within close proximity of Twickenham, the home of England rugby. I have been lucky enough to go to many Six Nations matches over the years. A group of buddies also tried to include an “away” game each season, which was always a great experience, if not ideal for the state of my liver.
Since living in Seattle, I obviously can’t get to the games live anymore, and they are not all covered on mainstream TV. Most of the Seattle British, Irish and Aussie/Kiwi pubs will televise the matches, and so a group of Ex-Pat buddies will take ourselves down to one to catch at least one.
Given the time difference, the games will typically be shown from as early as 6am to 10am – this adds an opportunity to fold in another great British tradition of the Full English/Irish/Scottish breakfast, accompanied by a pint of the black stuff (Guinness) to recreate the “away” game experience.
Whilst other pubs are available (Red Lion in Redmond, Kangaroo & Kiwi in Ballard etc), our normal hostelry of choice is Fado, near Pioneer Square – principally due to the quality of the breakfast.
The Full British breakfast has certain regional variations, but will normally come with the basic plate of (back) bacon, (pork) sausages, (fried) eggs, mushrooms, and (grilled) tomatoes. Optional and regional extras will include Lorne / square sausage (Scotland) fried bread, black & white pudding, (Heinz) baked beans, tattie scones (Scotland), and (toasted) soda bread (Ireland).
Below is a picture of the Full Irish breakfast at Fado – with the slight exception that I don’t like mushrooms, so I had swapped my portion for extra black & white puddings.
I love black pudding, and could eat it pretty much every day given the opportunity. For the uninitiated, black pudding is a type of sausage made from congealed pig’s blood, fat, and oatmeal. Sounds yummy, I hear you say – but I would urge you to get past the thought of what goes into it, and try it.
I admit, my first experience of it was not sheer delight either. My mom used to make it for my dad, but he liked it steamed and served plain with English mustard. Whilst this was OK, I only discovered how great it could be when I had it sliced and grilled. There are variations of black pudding globally, across Europe, Asia and the Americas. It is often known as boudin noir or blood sausage outside the UK. White pudding is a close cousin, but does not include the blood and is based mostly on oatmeal as the filler.
A Full British breakfast should really come with back bacon rather than American-style rashers. Back bacon is a British cut of pork using the loin – in days gone by, it would normally come as a single piece with the loin and belly connected, but most butchers nowadays tend to split the two now.
Jamie Oliver does a great recipe of a one-pan version which I would recommend for those wanting to do their own blowout breakfast at home. But then, I would recommend most Jamie Oliver recipes, as they are typically on the mark.
So, enjoy a great British breakfast – not necessarily every day, but certainly while you are watching the rugby!
The Secret Ingredient is BREAKFAST