Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Healthy Eating


A ‘wit’ once claimed that to eat well In Britain one should have breakfast three times a day. They may have had a point fifty years ago when meat and three veg was king, and men the length and breadth of the nation were wont to opine that “I don’t like my grub to be mucked about with”.

Those days are thankfully long behind us, and it is possible to eat as well in Britain as anywhere else in the world. In fact, in terms of the variety of ethnic foods available, we probably lead the world (with the possible exception of New York). Our only real gripe can be the excessive cost of eating out. If restaurant dining was as sensibly priced as it is in the United States I am sure that we would do it more often.

For all the variety available to us I think it’s fair to say that most of us hold the great British fry up in great affection; although the term ‘British’ is probably too general. The English fry up is a fine beast, although rather marred by the use of fried white bread and the blasphemous use of baked beans. The Scottish fry up has a slight edge, the use of black pudding and flat sausage distinguishing it from its southern cousin. The Northern Irish fry up is the daddy of them all, a work of genius requiring minimal culinary expertise.

What distinguishes the ‘Ulster Fry’ from its stable mates is the use of fried soda and potato breads. Soda bread is made using bicarbonate of soda rather than yeast as a raising agent, a technique that produces bread with a dense but moist texture. Potato bread is a flat bread made with spuds, flour and milk. It has a firm texture with a melting centre. These breads are fried in bacon fat to produce a crispy surface with an unctuous (fave word) interior.

As one of the great cholesterol rich dishes of Western Europe, the Ulster Fry was responsible for Northern Ireland’s appallingly high rate of coronary heart disease. In the past people fried in lard, thus ensuring that arteries received a fresh furring on a regular basis. It’s not as widely consumed these days, but is still eaten as an occasional treat.

A massive Ulster Fry served with a large mug of steaming tea is the kind of breakfast that negates the need for lunch (or dinner if you’re from oop north). The breads are available from Marks and Spencer. Go on, have a blow out. I know you really want to.

27 comments:

Wyndham said...

And how often do you avail yourself of the Ulster Fry,then,Garfer?

garfer said...

Well, I had one today. First time for about six months.
Luverrley.

Sniffy said...

OMG what a fuckin delish treat. I want one NOW (on top of the takeaway curry I had for my tea).

Tesco sells soda bread now, I almost got some the other week, then decided against it on the grounds that i was just being a greedy fat pig. I should've used the "I'm experiencing new cultures" excuse instead.

British food gets unfair treatment I think. You look at the raw ingredients available here and what can be done with them and people would be surprised. If anybody's in doubt as to the worth of British cuisine on the world stage, I reckon they'd should have a read or a look at anything by Rick Stein, Gordon Ramsey, or (I know, I know, he's a bit of a wanker) Gary Rhodes. On top of this we've got Nigel Slater and that other one, not Jamie, the other bloke. Anyway, they'll show you a think or two about British cooking.

Herge Smith said...

Smashing, I can feel my heart seize up just looking at it.

garfer said...

Very true.
Lancashire hot pot, Irish stew, steak and kidney pud et al. All gorgeous if made properly with good ingredients.
Even a good haggis is edible if it's made right.

garfer said...

It is indeed a pulmonary pounder of the first order. Probably up there with the doner kebab in the saturated fat league.

Sniffy said...

But like you said, it's a once in a while thing. Once or twice a year this isn't going to have much of an impact (depending on the rest of your diet of course).

garfer said...

Tomorrow I will mostly be eating chicken and black bean sauce down the chinese. That should supply my salt needs for the next six months.

Herge Smith said...

And MSG requirements.

I used to eat alot of these 'big brekkies' from the ALL NITE MARKET DINNER in Brighton - the largest b'fast you could get was called a 'Gut Buster' and it was about £6 - 9 years ago - it's about £6.50 now and it was fucking huge!!! Polished off a few of those in my time.

Hmm, now I'm peckish again.

garfer said...

A proper fry up after an all nighter used to be just the ticket.
Unfortunately my aged, enfeebled constitution can't stomach such excesses these days.

pissoff said...

An Ulster Fry. That, my dear man, is the bizz. That's enough to feed a whole family for a month.

MHN for short said...

Good grief, that looks delicious!! roastir toastie sausages to boot! Ah! The closest thing to heaven on Earth. :-)

Sniffy said...

Oh god, why did I open this page while I'm at work? I'm so hungry and I so want to fill my face with pork-based products until I'm sick (accompanied with brown sauce somewhere).

Why are you always starving the morning after you've eaten loads the previous evening?

Gordon said...

Hmmm... you missed the tattie scones aff the Scottish one - key ingredient.

We occasionally (once every couple of months) have a fry-up. Not sure what you'd call it as it incorporates a variety of items... eggs, bacon, square sausage, tattie scone, black and white pudding, mushrooms, beans (yes BEANS!), haggis, chips and a deep fried mars bar or two.

Or something like that, I can never remember exactly what we have until I make it.

surly girl said...

god god, man. there are hungry people reading who are now dribbling on their keyboards. or is that just me?

is it midday yet? i've got a pub lunch in the pipeline (so to speak).

Convict said...

As long as there's no bloody canned tomatoes then count me in. Oh and I like my fried white bread, preferably dipped in beaten egg. Damn, now I'm hungry too.

Sniffy said...

Awwww, yeah, fried bread.....

I HATE YOU!

Piggy and Tazzy said...

'Unctuous' - I like that word.

As for potato bread, or 'tattie scones' as I call them (they come in triangle shapes where I'm from) are bloody yummy. I could eat them all day, fried or not. They're really nice with butter on too.

And you're absolutely right about the cost of eating out. There's a wealth of variety to choose from these days, thankfully. Sadly, the costs involved put many people off.

Typical rip-off-fleece-them-for-every-penny-they-have Britain, yet again.

BigDov said...

I can't understand why people put beans and tomatoes on their breakfasts - it's just not right.

Tattie scones are my absolute fave - scottish morning roll, tattie scone, lorne sausage, black pudding. Mag-nif-ique !

MHN for short said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
MHN for short said...

Perhaps if eating at restaurants was more expensive in the states, we wouldn't be as over weight. When we cut costs, in our household, we stop eating out. It never fails, we all end up losing about 5-10 pounds. And saving about $150-$200 per month.

garfer said...

The health police suggested a low fat version of the fry up. Basically, everything was to be grilled except the egg, which was to be poached.
If you ask me that defeats the purpose. Fried food is lush. What do some free rads and a spot of saturated fat matter if you only indulge once in a while?

Faltanus said...

just remember garf, "sensibly priced restaurants" is a big contributor to the fact that this country (the US) is the most obese in the world. restaraunt portions here average 2.5 the recommended portion size. one thing i always liked about the restaurants in europe was that they served reasonable portion sizes.

garfer said...

The UK is number 2 behind the US in the obesity league.
To walk along the average British high street and observe obese females waddling along in skin tight lycra leggings is enough to put anyone off fast food for life.

Rowan said...

there is this little pub down the road from me that serves potato bread...I love it....but now that I read that you use BACON fat....I'm not so sure now I'll be back to eat it again...that's sickening!

garfer said...

Bacon fat is vital for the right flavour.
You can use vegetable oil if you are fussy.

S.I.D. said...

Yes, you can't beat a good old Ulster Fry.Great post Garfer.

Remember slim?

That is added just to take the guilt off.