British playwright Somerset Maugham once said that "to eat well in England you should eat breakfast three times a day".
Was this a witty way of saying that, save for breakfast, the food in England was inedible - or that the English breakfast is so superior that it's worth eating not once but thrice daily?
The English breakfast is a cholesterol-laden calorie bomb usually consisting of two eggs, sausage, bacon, baked beans, fried tomato and toast. It's a symphony of deliciousness on a plate, enough to ward off the worst hangover and fill you up until dinnertime. Indulge in it as often as Maugham suggested and it could take years off your life. But devotees insist you can't find a better breakfast anywhere.
On a recent trip to London, I wanted to indulge in a few of these fry ups (as the meal is colloquially referred) to decide for myself whether this was the world's best breakfast - and, by extension, how to interpret Maugham's dining admonition.
Regency Cafe, in the Pimlico neighborhood, has been slinging up the full English breakfast since 1946. I recruited local food writer Lizzie Mabbott for the artery-hardening task of helping me decipher the dish.
As we walked in, a guy with a fresh black eye strode out, newspaper under his arm, making me wonder if I, too, was going to have to do battle to eat the entire meal. Mabbott and I got in line and studied the chalkboard behind the counter: the set breakfast consisted of egg, bacon, sausage, beans or tomatoes, bread or toast, coffee or tea. All for £5.50 ($11.70). For a small additional fee you could also order hash browns, black pudding (blood sausage stuffed with small chunks of lard) and bubble and squeak (a sort of potato cake with cabbage).
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