Bog Standard English Breakfast
The Bath Arms Hotel Bath Street Cheddar Somerset BS27 3AA United Kingdom
Telephone: 00 44 (0) 1934 742425
How I would love to be able to sit here and write about the wonderful English Breakfast I ate in the quaint little pub at the foot of the Mendip Hills. Unfortunately, that's not how it happened. Instead you are going to have to learn about the classic bog-standard English Breakfast that we found in a bog-standard English pub in a small West-Country village.
We hadn't been smart enough or had enough time to do research into places where a good breakfast might be had, so instead we settled for the first place we saw advertising it, a pub in Cheddar village called The Bath Arms.
The first thing a Californian might notice upon walking into a pub before 9 in the morning is that not only does the building reek of stale cigarette smoke, people are actually puffing away over their breakfasts. We chose a table in another room and perused the menu.
eggs, bacon, sausage, black pudding, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, fried bread.
5 items £3.25 8 items £4.25
Tea or coffee included
Toast with butter and jam/marmalade an extra £1.50
Dad and I both went for the 5 item special, whilst mum settled for an off-the-menu scrambled eggs on toast with mushrooms.
The tastiest thing on my plate was the sausage. This doesn't mean to say it was a good sausage. In fact, it was undoubtedly a horrible, mass-produced, un-meaty, cheap sausage most probably fashioned from the most gruesome of ground-up body parts. The thing is, when I was a kid, I was the pickiest, fussiest eater imagineable and according to my mother, the only thing I would eat was sausages. As I grew up during a bleak period for British food, the kind of sausages I ate and loved in those days were undoubtedly not the wholesome kind I prefer today. Despite being aware of their bad reputation I still have a soft spot for them to this day.
Everything else on my plate was under par. The bacon was too salty, I was never a huge lover of bacon anyway. The egg was overcooked. I eyed dad's less-fried egg enviously as his yolk spread across his plate whilst my own upheld its hemispherical shape, solid, in the centre of the white. The tomatoes were hard and not grilled enough, the mushrooms, apparently deep fried, were downright awful. The poor things had been rendered totally inedible in a vat of tasteless oil.
I was almost coveting my mum's simpler scrambled egg breakfast dish, although her mushrooms were just as abused.
All was not lost, I filled myself up on some simple white sliced toast with butter and marmalade and a large pot of strong black tea. Next time I have an English breakfast I am going to make it myself, here, in California and despite the lack of English-style sausages and the right kind of bacon in these parts, I can guarantee that it will taste one hundred times better than the sorry Bath Arms version.
Disclaimer: Not all sausages or breakfasts in England are this bad. To the contrary there are some truly amazing and delicious sausages to be found in the UK and many places that actually know how to cook quite a decent English breakfast.