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The Ulster Fry, Belfast

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There are almost innumerable permutations of the Ulster Fry, a heroic breakfast (though it is often served at other times of the day) indeed; but the essential component is at the very least one type, and at best three, of fried breads: soda farl split and fried cut-side down; potato bread; and even a drop scone.
As regards meats it would not be a proper fry without sausages; likewise a few rashers of good back bacon; black pudding surely a must; white pudding a bonus. A fry without an egg is anathema.
This today is a breakfast for a leisurely Sunday morning (as movement afterwards is difficult); or for a family gathering during the holidays. In times past of course it would have served the Belfast shipyard riveter or small-scale farmer, with enough calories to last a morning’s labour and then some.
Some sources now suggest grilling the foods, laudable in a way but missing the point; and the health lobby is doubtless happy that baked beans and fried tomato have made their way onto some cooks’ lists. It is hard though not to laugh at one version seen recently, where it is suggested that the plate be garnished with sprigs of watercress, which may be the most optimistic idea I have seen in many a long day: as useful as rearranging the deckchairs on that other great Ulster creation, The Titanic.

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