What is a Welsh Breakfast?
A Welsh breakfast is a cooked breakfast which includes traditional Welsh dishes and Welsh ingredients. In Wales, many inns have started promoting this meal to remind visitors that they are, in fact, in Wales, and these inns pride themselves on using local ingredients, with a focus on organic and environmentally sound ingredients in many locations as well.
The components of a Welsh breakfast vary, and are a topic of debate. Some common features are bacon, sausages, cockles, laverbread, black pudding, oatmeal, eggs, fried mushrooms, tomatoes, and smoked fish. It is also possible to see some cold ingredients, like fresh fruit and cereals, although these may not always be of Welsh origin. In any case, the meal is meant to be bracing and filling, preparing the consumer for a day of hard work in the often difficult Welsh climate.
The bacon and sausages for this type of breakfast are ideally made in Wales, with traditionally Welsh ingredients. The Welsh tend to like their bacon thick, and it may also be heavily marbled with fat, depending on what part of the pig it comes from. Cockles are small shellfish which are harvested from the rocky coastline of Wales; Penclawdd cockles are said to be particularly fine.
Laverbread is a food product made from laver, a type of seaweed. The Welsh people have used this seaweed as a food ingredient for centuries, and there are a variety of ways to include it in a Welsh breakfast; traditionally, the seaweed is cooked into a jelly, which may be rolled in oats and fried or baked to create a small block of highly nutritious food; it is typically served with a wedge of lemon.
Black pudding or blood pudding is an arguable inclusion, because it is an English food. It is a type of sausage which is made with blood, turning the sausage very dark and rich, and it may be fried or boiled, depending on one's taste. The other ingredients in a Welsh breakfast have been eaten in Wales for varying amounts of time, but they have all come to be associated with a traditional breakfast.
You can expect many of the items above at an inn which advertises a full Welsh breakfast. Typically tea is served as well, along with toast, and sometimes it is possible to find breakfast pastries as well, depending on how authentic the cook is feeling. The breakfast is also served with local Welsh cream, milk, and butter.
Has anyone ever tried to make his or her own laverbread? I am a big fan of seaweed and reading about this part of the Welsh breakfast has me intrigued. I am curious to how you found the texture and taste?
I found a recipe and it seems really simple. Just wash the laver until clean then boil it until it is a paste. Apparently this can take up to 6 hours. After that, add it to oatmeal and make it into patties that can then be fried in olive oil.
I have quite a bit of seaweed laying about my home from my sushi making adventures, so I am wondering if this is a tasty dish.
If you have a chance to stay in Wales their traditional breakfast can be a real treat. Though I strongly recommend you bring your appetite because the portion sizing is absolutely huge.
Coming from America and being used to cereal and milk for breakfast, with perhaps a bit of fruit did not well prepare me for the platter of food I was presented with. I loved most of the dish but have to admit passing on the blood pudding and cockles.
I have an allergy to shell fish, so make sure you let your server know so they can remove it from your meal if you have one as well. I didn't know what a cockle was when I placed my order so I was in for a surprise.
@bivie - Yes, the black pudding served in the Welsh breakfast is the same thing as blood sausage; it just goes by a different name. Blood pudding is also the same thing. To make it you, cook blood until it gets thick and coagulates. Then you put some kind of filler in it--usually a meat, but it can be something starchy.
@starrynight--I agree with you. It sounds kind of gross. I'm sure if they eat it every day though, it can't be that bad. Does anyone know if the black pudding is the same thing as blood sausage? It kind of sounds like it.
@summing - I hear what you are saying, but I see it differently. Many of the things in the Welsh breakfast are things we eat here in America. The difference is that we don't normally eat all of them together. Some folks eat cereal and toast; others fry up bacon or sausage, eggs and toast. We just seem to eat fewer items in our breakfasts. That's probably because we are always in a hurry in the morning.
I have had a full English breakfast and I have had a full Irish breakfast but I have never tried the Welsh variety. I seems to be quite a bit different. It is amazing to me that is such a small place (The UK) with such closely related culture you can have three distinct breakfasts evolve separately. Here in America we pretty much all eat the same thing. In the UK there is something different on every breakfast table. The world works in weird ways sometimes.
I once took a British Airways flight into Whales. The flight was early in the morning and included a traditional Welsh breakfast very similar to the one described here. It was not the greatest breakfast I've ever had but it was a nice change of pace. Most airlines serve you the most generic food possible.
@Azuza - My parents do a lot of traveling and after coming back from staying at a bed and breakfast inn in Wales they were raving about the black pudding. It sounds kind of gross but apparently it's very good.
The Welsh breakfast sounds delicious! I especially love that they include seaweed and in addition to the other hearty ingredients. A lot of traditional breakfasts aren't that good for you but seaweed is very healthy. Although fatty bacon may cancel out those good health benefits!
However if I were staying at a country bed and breakfast in Wales you better believe I would take advantage of the Welsh breakfast!
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