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The English Breakfast

The English Breakfast: The Biography of a National Meal with Recipes

by Kaori O’Connor

Kaori O’Connor is an anthropologist at University College London (UCL), UK. Holding degrees in anthropology from Reed College, Oxford University and UCL, she has written widely on the anthropology of food, won the prestigious Sophie Coe Prize for Food History in 2009 and is a frequent media commentator. Author affiliation details are correct at time of print publication.

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Bloomsbury Academic, 2013
  • DOI:
    10.5040/9781350042230
  • ISBN:
    978-1-3500-4223-0 (online)

    978-0-8578-5454-4 (paperback)

    978-0-8578-5491-9 (epub)
  • Edition:
    First edition
  • Place of Publication:
    London
  • Published Online:
    2017
The English Breakfast
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The English breakfast is one of the best-loved national meals in the world, an edible symbol of England and Englishness. But how did breakfast attain this distinction, what can a national meal tell us about the nation that eats it, what are the links between social and culinary change, and is there more to the English breakfast than bacon and eggs?

This biography of the English breakfast shows how the renowned meal came into being over many centuries, reaching its height in the Victorian and Edwardian eras when splendid breakfasts were served from silver dishes in grand country houses across the land. Following this historical analysis are three authentic and complete cookbooks devoted entirely to breakfasts from the heyday of this best of all meals, with some 500 recipes by three celebrated culinary figures of the Victorian age - an elite hostess, a thrifty housekeeper, and a pukka colonial colonel - before the narrative continues up to the present. The epilogue, new to this paperback edition, covers ‘the devolved breakfast’ (Scottish, Welsh and Irish); the renaissance of the full breakfast during financial crises and the working class ‘caff’.

Mixing anthropology, cultural biography, the invention of tradition and the study of cookbooks as social documents, The English Breakfast is a truly unique work of food history.