I’ve gathered that a fry-up is a mainstay of everyday British cuisine, and as far as I can tell it entails pouring basically whatever you have on hand into a pan, adding some form of fat, and applying heat.
Does this dish exist in today’s Britain outside of fiction? Is it common? Is there a recipe, or is my description above on the money?
Everyone you speak to will have a different version of what constitutes “the perfect fry-up” - getting agreement is pretty much impossible!
Mine would be:
2 x sausages
2 x fried eggs
1 x handful fried mushrooms
2-3 x rashers of bacon
1 x slice of fried bread
1 x dollop of baked beans
1 x grilled tomato
Eaten for breakfast usually, but only (in my case) 1-2 times a year.
Some people eat this every morning, but they tend to exclude themselves from the gene pool when their arteries get clogged with grease.
Cooked by chucking it all (except baked beans) in a frying pan with hot fat - I use vegetable oil, but many people use beef dripping - and cooked until crisp. This makes it a good camping / holiday breakfast - one pan, no fuss.
Some people will insist on adding black pudding, others will say it needs brown sauce not ketchup, others might have scrambled eggs, some would say adding beans is an abomination… you get the idea!
Bacon and sausages usually appear in all versions though.
A fry up isn’t limited to breakfast - (not that fried breakfasts are always consumed in the morning anyway), although it’s often composed of similar items.
It will probably include eggs and sausages and/or bacon, but may involve fried liver and onions, fried potato slices and mushrooms - these are not so commonly included in a fried or ‘full English’ breakfast.
A quality fry-up is an art form and is also difficult to do in one pan unless it’s for one. For this reason I always have grilled sausages (always good quality butchers sausages), grilled tomatoes, fried bacon (thick cut, quality stuff again), fried, scrambled or poached eggs and mushrooms. You can then add any (or more) of the following:
beans (I like beans but not really in fry-ups)
fried potato with (or without) onion
There are loads of other additions but these are, IMHO, the most usual.
Ugh. The British eat way too much for breakfast. I was staying at a B&B in Wells and the nice lady asked me what I wanted for breakfast. “Oh, just some scrambled eggs and toast would be great,” sez I. Next morning I come down to two places the size of obese children overflowing with eggs and toast respectively. And of course I felt obliged to eat everything because I was taught as a child that it’s rude to leave food on your plate when you’re a guest. I don’t know how I managed to keep my intestines from rupturing.
Fry-ups are special occasions. Most of the time we just have toast or cereal. Don’t know what the lady in Wells was doing - B&Bs are usually quite stingy. ETA: I’m guessing she didn’t expect you to eat the lot. Which is a dreadful attitude on her part, IMO.