What started as nostalgia for eating one of Dad's favourite treats, fried black pudding from one of Kingstown's street merchants, I ended up paying homage to the British and Scottish side of our Caribbean culture. I had no plantains or breadfruit to complete the meal but I had rashers, blood sausage, toast, tomatoes, mushrooms, and baked beans. Blood sausages are very difficult to find in the USA. I ordered my black pudding and rashers from an Irish American grocer, Tommy Moloney's, in Woodbridge.
The kids took me out for lunch at The Dandelion in Philadelphia. It's a British-style pub we visited earlier this year for afternoon tea. I had an English Breakfast of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, baked beans, mushrooms and black pudding. Shaan and Kiran had French Toast and pancakes.
Afterwards, I had expected to walk around Philadelphia, but it started raining heavily, so we aborted the walk and drove home.
I'm Scottish! Yes, really. As Scottish as any American who doesn't speak Scottish Gaelic has no close family in Scotland and can't tell you where Hibredres Island are.
My mother's family can trace its roots back to the coasts of Scotland and France. According to my mother, my great-grandfather Francis McLaren, from whom I received my middle name, was a bag-pipe-playing Scot who wore a kilt. I guess it's no coincidence that my mother's family settled in the hilly areas of the Grenadines. A 23andme.com DNA test shows I am 43.9% Western European — mainly British (Scottish, Irish and Welsh), French, and Iberian. Yes, my family tree twists and turns in directions that my physical appearance won't reveal.
While my grandfather's family is primarily French, my grandmother's family is Scottish with some "native" American. I feel that when US Americans think about the phrase Native American, they think only of North America, but I'm being more inclusive here. My great-grandfather married her and begat (I'm getting all biblical ) a daughter who married my grandfather. They begat my mother, who married my predominantly African father (who has a bit of Dutch ) and begat me.
But this blog post isn't about genealogy. It's about breakfast, a Full Scottish or Full English breakfast. While researching my ancestry, I learned much about Scotland, especially Scottish breakfast. I spent a bit of time with my maternal grandparents when I was a child. My grandmother always insisted on eating a hearty breakfast, perhaps because of her heritage. For my grandmother, breakfast was fried fish, fried ",fungi", fresh-baked bread with a slathering of salted butter, and a large enamel mug of hot cocoa1 or café au lait2.
Sometimes we had fried black pudding. What's black pudding? The ingredients sound revolting: pigs' blood, fat, oats, barley, and spices, all stuffed in a length of intestine. The island version will have rice instead of oats and barley. I loved black pudding growing up. Sweet, crunchy and fried. Oh yeah!
Anyway, a few years ago, I felt nostalgic for the homeland and started to look for places that served black pudding. My search led me to The Blue Rooster in Cranbury, where I've had a Father's Day breakfast every year for the last three years. The Blue Rooster has a Full Irish Breakfast on the menu. Full is a word used to convey completeness, but a Full Irish Breakfast also makes the diner feel full. The Rooster's version is black pudding, white pudding, sausage ( banger in the vernacular of the UK ), tomato, baked beans, ham, toast, sautéed mushrooms, and two eggs over easy. Wow!
It's a hearty breakfast, but since I limit myself to the once-a-year trip for Father's Day, I'm not worried. Much!
According to my research a Full Scottish Breakfast is:
- Half a tomato, broiled with cheese on top
- A rasher of bacon, which in the UK is more like thinly sliced ham
- Potato, or tattie, scone (rhymes with gone)
- Link sausage or banger
- Sautéed mushrooms
- Baked beans (yes, for breakfast)
- One egg, fixed any way you like
- Black pudding (which is anything but a dark chocolate dessert)
- A bowl of porridge (oatmeal)
For lunch today3 I added some elements of a full Scottish breakfast (scones and oatmeal) to the Rooster's Full Irish Breakfast. I didn't have access to a tattie, so I settled for an American scone.
According to my research, porridge is different from the oatmeal eaten in the USA:
Scottish oatmeal is smoother than your typical Quaker Oats. Start with a pat of butter and a splash of milk, then toss in some golden currants (like raisins, but not) and a generous spoonful of light brown Demerara sugar, and you're ready to begin the day the way Scots have for centuries.
I settled for a tiny cup of Holly's Whole Grain Oatmeal from the menu. When I explained what I was trying to do to our server, she served my oatmeal with brown sugar and blueberries on the side. I added a scone and was ready for my adventure.
I took a swig from my mug of French Press coffee and dug in. Slowly but surely, I ate everything on my plate, just like my grandmother had taught me. As I said before, by "full", the Scots mean "complete," but full is what I felt when you finished the last bite of that scone. After completing the meal, I was sure I no longer wanted dinner. I wanted two Lipitor and a nap. I skipped the Lipitor4 but around 2 PM I dozed off watching the kids play on the Nintendo. I can't wait for next Father's Day.
- Not to be confused with that disgusting sweet shit Americans call hot chocolate. Yuck! ↩
- My grandmother always used hot milk and brewed her coffee on the stove. Strong stuff. ↩
- We've had some problems scheduling Father's Day breakfast this year. ↩
- I have high cholesterol but take my Lipitor in the morning with breakfast. ↩