Felicity Cloake, a food writer for the Guardian, has just produced this book, Red Sauce, Brown Sauce. To do this, she ate nearly 50 breakfasts and cycled nearly 2,400 kilometres. Since this project was planned during the Covid pandemic, she found it impossible to investigate all of the manufacturers of the breakfast products that she was tasting. In spite of this, it makes entertaining reading from both geographical and culinary viewpoints.
Recipes for red sauce and brown sauce
She starts by heading to Cornwall via Exeter by train, where she watches butter being churned and tastes Hog’s puddings. She tells us how many different puddings there are to eat at breakfast all over the UK. In Wales she investigates Laverbread, honey and baked beans. Early on she gives us recipes for home-made tomato and brown sauces, but she never fails to note down the preference of everyone she meets. There are some usual statistics at the end of the book.
Marmite and Manx kippers
She wants to visit the Marmite factory in Burton-on-Trent, but that’s off limits because of COVID. But she does investigate Staffordshire oatcakes and, naturally, goes to the Isle of Man for the kippers (and sees them being properly smoked). Northern Ireland proves interesting for the Ulster Fry – along with potato bread and soda farls.
Porridge and haggis
Porridge became the order of the day after the ferry crossing to Scotland – where she takes in the World Porridge-making competition. She chases up Stottie cakes, and sees how marmalade is made in the original town of its invention.
Naturally, it is haggis for breakfast, rather than Black Pudding, which she does see being made in East Anglia. The latter is the place for pig-rearing and therefore bacon and sausages. She finishes by cycling around London and discussing the different ways of cooking eggs for breakfast.
A delightful travel companion
The book is a delightful mixture of a cycling travel book and informative detail on English regional breakfasts – mixed in with investigative journalism on food production. Certainly, to eat all those ‘Full English’ breakfasts she needed to do a fair bit of cycling – especially uphill. The book is also a commentary on cafés and other eateries and hotels and pubs to eat and sleep in.