The other day I took a flight from Krakow, Poland to Leeds, United Kingdom.
After landing in Leeds, I immediately took a train for York. York is a relatively historical small city in the North of England. I only stayed one night.
York had lots of nice sights on its own (cathedral, medieval streets, and Britain’s national railway museum) but I want to talk about breakfast.
A friend who lives in England recommended I try a place called Bettys for classic English tea. I went for breakfast. When I looked at the menu, I saw the words “English breakfast.” I thought that would be a good thing to get if I’m trying to learn about England, so I went for it.
It was a sausage, some pieces of bacon (though a bit different than American bacon), scrambled eggs, grilled tomato, mushrooms, and toast. It was quite good.
I especially enjoyed the toast, it was simple buttered toast on wheat bread. I hadn’t had toast in months, I never saw it anywhere in Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, or Poland.
But actually, I enjoyed the whole thing, not just the toast. It had been a while since I ate anything like it.
Italians, as I mentioned probably in other posts, don’t do much for breakfast. The classic Italian breakfast is a coffee and a croissant or brioche. From what I’ve heard, it’s similar in France.
Germans do a bit more. They like cereal, yogurt, and even cold cuts for breakfast and hotels and hostels tend to have a spread.
But nowhere I’ve been to in Europe has come close to cooking a full meal for breakfast, like Bob Evans or something similar, until England. I can only assume that the United States gets its breakfast tradition from its English heritage.
That doesn’t mean English breakfast and American breakfast are the same, though. Some differences exist. I became curious about breakfast while eating that breakfast so I started surfing Wikipedia’s breakfast-related materials.
English breakfast and American breakfast both include staples like eggs, bacon, sausages, hash browns, and toast. But the English don’t eat anything sweet with breakfast… you won’t find waffles, pancakes, or maple syrup. They consider those to be desserts. Also, the English often include grilled tomatoes, beans and mushrooms in their breakfast which I’ve never seen stateside.
So there’s some differences, but still, English breakfast and American breakfast are quite similar when you compare them to the breakfasts served in continental Europe.
Wait a minute, “breakfasts served in continental Europe” reminds me of something… What is it? Oh yeah! Continental breakfast!
(Continental Europe, for those who don’t know, refers to the main land mass of Europe, not including Great Britain and Ireland because they’re islands. The British tend to sometimes identify themselves as separate from the rest of Europe and refer to the rest as “the Continent.” Sicily actually does the same thing, funnily enough.)
But I digress. The point is, the last time you had the continental breakfast at the Holiday Inn Express in Fremont, Ohio, they were referring to Continental Europe. France, Italy, Germany. Because those countries don’t have as elaborate of breakfasts as the US and Britain traditionally did.
And this concludes my lesson on the differences in breakfasts throughout the western world.
The tea was good too. I tried it with milk which is common in England but I liked it better without. The waitress told me it would be quite strong without milk but I didn’t find it that bad.