You don’t always have to drown your sorrows. Sometimes you can just eat them.
In a rare moment, politics upstaged football’s Euro 2016 on BBC World News this summer as results of the Brexit referendum swept the world. Markets crashed in India, China and New York. Frantic reports went into 24/7 overdrive. The Beeb’s usually unflappable reporters freaked right out. Political author and scholar Ian Bremmer called it the greatest own goal scored by a modern democracy in all of history. At least there is one thing that will help England recover from the dark political night wrought by its Oxford sons: a morning-after, old-fashioned English breakfast, upon which we must never initiate a referendum.
Far from the madding crowd that voted England out of Europe, Thomas Hardy’s lush pastoral scenery and quiet, aching nostalgia are still accessible in a few sacred spots. Among the fields and taverns he describes (fictional Wessex; semi-factual Dorset) and beyond in Oxford, Cornwall, the Lake District, Yorkshire, and really all over England, you get this: thick, squishy toast; two eggs (poached, lightly fried, or soft-boiled with the precision of a James Bond martini), greasy bacon, potatoes, crispy sausage, baked beans in the lightest of tomato sauces, and a few slices of shriveled tomatoes.
Haute cuisine this is not, and on a healthy day, an English breakfast won’t do you much good. It exists for times of trouble. That bacon needs to be thick and soggy, the sausage made from mystery meat, and it’s just fine that the beans come from a giant can.
In a country whose best and brightest (Cameron & Boris…are they?) dimmed the lights of reason and stoked a facist fire with hate speech, zenophobia, and egocentric nationalism, we can feel sure that somewhere in the country, wisdom will prevail. When you visit a B&B in the English countryside, take heart. You won’t have to suffer the consequences of England as a European nation anymore. There will be no stale croissants. Maybe more than ever, the full English breakfast is a source of national pride.
FROM THE ARCHIVES: