The London Times made the scandalous accusation late last week that the great British breakfast is a killer. Sounding off about “this whey-faced generation of feckless British fatties,” restaurant critic Giles Coren takes a crowbar to the “Olympic” breakfast at the famous Little Chef chain of restaurants:

The current £7.25 [about $14] ‘Olympic’ breakfast at Little Chef comprises: ‘two rashers of crisp backbacon, British outdoor-reared pork sausage, two griddled eggs, whole-cup mushrooms, crispy sauté potatoes, fresh griddled tomato, Heinz baked beans and toasted or fried extra-thick bloomer bread.’

Olympic? What the hell event do they have in mind, the 3,000m casualty dash? The Triple Barf (also called the hop, skip and vomit)? The Synchronised Massive Coronary?

But instead of just bashing the breakfast, he actually wrestles (a bit) with its origins:

The fried English breakfast was conceived during the Industrial Revolution (probably) as a form of fast fuel for a working class that actually worked. They ate 3,000 calories in the morning, then they burnt 3,000 calories by lunchtime. Or died when the mine collapsed.

Touché. But the breakfast ideal he describes is actually not so far from the “Midwestern” breakfast ideal of flapjacks, sausage and/or bacon, eggs, hash browns, and toast; if you’re working on a dairy farm for six hours before noon comes around, you’re going to need some serious fuel in order to keep standing. Work habits changed, but breakfast (at least at Denny’s) didn’t.

Coren goes on to talk about how he convinced a trucker to change his breakfast eating habits, swapping out the fried foods and eating only porridge for his first meal of the day. Two weeks later, the trucker had lost a stone (14 pounds).

Naturally, fans of fry-ups aren’t having any of it:

Ross Anderson replies:

Hands off my sausage, Coren. I am not about to be lectured on what I eat by a man who gets paid for feeding his face.

The Times restaurant critic has a masterful way with words and a witty turn of phrase, but strip away the etymological pyrotechnics and what do you have? Preaching, that’s what–and preaching of the worst sort: as practised by the nanny-state control freaks currently turning this country into a joyless puritan hellhole run by cyclists who knit their own tofu, where a glass of wine is a unit and lighting a fag risks summary execution for killing babies.

In defense of Coren: Isn’t a food expert who eats for a living precisely the type of person who should be able to lecture the general public on how not to kill themselves with what they eat?

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