Breakfast of champions

The English have got a thing about a cooked breakfast. Turns out the Welsh do too. On a trip around Wales in the Northern hemisphere summer, Dr Sin and Mrs Lomez stayed in bed and breakfast accommodation at every stop along the way. This is better than you can get at most hotels. Every place, from Carnaerfon to Betwys-y-Coed and down to Hay-on-Wye, had a vegetarian option. And grapefruit juice.

Cooked breakfast means the whole deal: tomatoes, mushrooms, eggs, sausages, bacon, baked beans, toast and sometimes a hash brown. The Black Boy in Carnaerfon did a vegan version without all the non-vegan elements, naturally, and with the added treat of pineapple, which the meat-eaters weren’t offered. Does this make all veggies feel special, as Mrs Lomez did that day? The Ferns in Betwys-y-Coed served Linda McCartney sausages in the veg option, top points. But The Bear in Hay-on-Wye outdid everyone with a menu tailored to their guests, i.e. a vegan option for the vegan. The first morning’s breakfast was home-cooked beans on sourdough, herbified with thyme. The second morning Mrs Lomez awoke to a vegan bubble ‘n’ squeak, usually concocted of mashed potato and leftovers, the leftover beans in this case served on the side. How thoughtful to have a different meal prepared each day! Dr Sin had not a grumble about having the same breakfast two days in a row — well, essentially variations of the same for the whole week’s holiday. The key is in the eggs, apparently.

Our Welsh hosts (and English hosts living in Wales) did exceptionally well on the veg front, taking it as licence to be a bit more imaginative with breakfast. And perhaps vegetarians do have more options for the first meal of the day. The full English breakfast, or ‘fry up’, is such a standard that to vary from it is to mess with the national psyche. Mrs Lomez sometimes feels sorry for Dr Sin and other meat-eaters in this part of the world, always offered the same thing for breakfast on the weekend. Down under, using Melbourne as a reference point, cooked breakfast is more playful — no fear fooking with tradition. Slow-cooked beans, shakshouka and Middle Eastern-inspired tagines, and lots of greenery: wilted spinach, rocket, parsley and other scattered greens, avocado. (So avocado itself doesn’t fall under the ‘cooked’ category but certainly qualifies when mashed up and served on toast.)

Wales was, and is, beautiful. A few things Dr Sin and Mrs Lomez learned on their trip: 1) No one who ever scaled Mount Snowdon could have done so without a hearty breakfast in the tummy. 2) There’s a reason why the Welsh resent the English. 3) Sheep have tails. A strange sight for Australians.

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