At normal time it is not unusual to eat grilled beef steaks or mutton chops at breakfast, and there are still old-fashioned people who like to start the day with cold roast beef.
In some parts of the country, for instance in East Anglia, it is usual to eat cheese at breakfast.
He begins by describing the sorry state of the majority of Ireland’s population in detailed terms, leading the reader to believe he has a compassionate solution in mind, thus making it even more shocking when he states his proposal: “I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious nourishing and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout.” Swift wasted no time in calling out the wealthy landowners, whose unfair practices contributed to the Irish struggle, saying “I grant this food will be somewhat dear, and therefore very proper for landlords, who, as they have already devoured most of the parents, seem to have the best title to the children.” Complicating the problem, Ireland at the time was a largely Roman Catholic country that was being ruled by an English Protestant minority.
This contributed significantly to Ireland’s resentment towards English rule.
Generalising further, one may say that the characteristic British diet is a simple, rather heavy, perhaps slightly barbarous diet, drawing much of its virtue from the excellence of the local materials, and with its main emphasis on sugar and animal fats.
It is the diet of a wet northern country where butter is plentiful and vegetable oils are scarce, where hot drinks are acceptable at most hours of the day, and where all the spices and some of the stronger-tasting herbs are exotic products.When Voltaire made his often-quoted statement that the country of Britain has “a hundred religions and only one sauce”, he was saying something which was untrue and which is equally untrue today, but which might still be echoed in good faith by a foreign visitor who made only a brief stay and drew his impressions from hotels and restaurants.For the first thing to be noticed about British cookery is that it is best studied in private houses, and more particularly in the homes of the middle-class and working-class masses who have not become Europeanised in their tastes.In principle the meal consists of three courses, one of which is a meat course.Traditionally it starts with porridge, which is made of coarse oatmeal, sodden and then boiled into a spongy mess: it is eaten always hot, with cold milk (better still, cream) poured over it, and sugar.In talking of British cookery, therefore, one is talking of the past or the future – of dishes that the British people now see somewhat rarely, but which they would gladly eat if they had the chance, and which they did eat fairly frequently up to 1939. Ideally for nearly all British people, and in practice for most of them even now, this is not a snack but a serious meal.The hour at which people have their breakfast is of course governed by the time at which they go to work, but if they were free to choose, most people would like to have breakfast at nine o’clock.Frustrated at the lack of progress, he turned to writing.In his most famous piece of satire, “A Modest Proposal For preventing the Children of Poor People From being a Burthen to Their Parents or Country, and For making them Beneficial to the Publick,” Swift called attention to the plight of the Irish by proposing an outlandish plan to help Ireland’s poor.It was largely ignored by critics, and those who did read it recognized the absurdity of its argument and did not take it as a serious proposal.Of course, Swift most likely never meant for it to be taken seriously by anyone.