Nutritional experts have referred to breakfast as the most important meal of the day, citing studies that find that people who skip breakfast are disproportionately likely to have problems with concentration, metabolism, weight, and cardiac health. I am sure you are familiar with the saying “eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a porper”, well unfortunately I tend to opt for the “eat like a king” method for all three meals, and that is reflected in my general physique! It is certainly something that I try to rectify, but as a freelance food writer, it is somewhat of an occupational hazard.
Now there is something essentially British, and if I may say, specifically English about a good old fashioned traditional fried breakfast that really identifies us as a nation. On many occasions however, this seems to be looked upon negatively by our European neighbours, but there is no shortage of those very same criticisers queuing up at the breakfast buffet for a super sized plateful while they are away on business at the Holiday Inn or other similar establishment. For me, breakfast is essentially one of the best parts of any holiday experience and while I agree we should be looking at healthier options in a society where over indulgence and national obesity seems to dominate a large amount of airtime on television and clutters our daily newspapers, but a bowl of muesli and a glass of grapefruit juice simply does not cut the mustard.
I eat and write about my experiences on a semi-professional basis and I am always on the lookout for a breakfast that can perform. I believe that a quality breakfast is a key marker of hotels (large and small), as well as those quaint guest houses and B&B’s and as such, I find that those who have mastered the first meal of the day, tend to offer fantastic food for lunch and evening service as well. I have regularly stayed in establishments where the breakfast has been their only saving grace and some hoteliers even plan it to be that way.
The key to a first class breakfast are the ingredients. Locally produced, fresh and of high quality is definitely the criterion which sets the traditional breakfast apart from those disgusting chain hotel self-service buffet bars with their economy sausages, eggs from a carton and greasy, fatty, overcooked bacon rashers. Don’t even get me started on the state of the black pudding in these larger hotels, let’s just say inedible is probably the kindest description that springs to mind! I know it’s not everyone’s “cup of tea” but black pudding to me it is an essential part of the traditional British cooked breakfast and as with the more common items such as sausage, eggs and bacon, it really can be enjoyed and the flavours are amazing as well as the texture depths. The key to a good black pudding starts with the animal itself and for me, nothing could be better than rare breed pigs and artisan black pudding from my favourite supplier, The Fruit Pig Company. Where my food comes from is of great importance to me, I want local, I want fresh, I want heritage and above all I want to be able to support trusted artisan producers.
The Fruit Pig Company produces rare breed, free range artisan pork products for fine hotels, restaurants, delis and pubs. They also supply chilled, next day, home deliveries to a growing mass of on-line customers. Each Fruit Pig animal lives outside in fields and woods, and takes at least twice as long to grow as the usual commercial breeds. Matt Cockin (award winning butcher and teacher at The School of Artisan Food), holds many awards for his rare breed pork sausages as well as his black pudding and his rare breed bacon is traditionally and slowly dry cured making for some of the best bacon I have ever tasted. The Fruit Pig Company is based in East Anglia and is the only rare breed pork butchers in the county. Matt supplies to most of the wonderful hotels and pubs along the glorious A149 Coastal Road which dominated my childhood and still sees me returning monthly to undertake my Fabulous Norfolk reviews.
The Black Pudding is like no other I have tasted anywhere, it has a unique taste, a sumptuous mix of fresh blood, oats, rare breed fat, spices, mustard and a handful of sultanas, and the textures are simply amazing. I have used this for scallop dishes, with halibut and even matched with Stilton cheese, and of course, no traditional English breakfast is complete without a couple of slices of this delightful and necessary fruity Black Pudding!