Every lodging place in Scotland, from five-star hotels to one-star hovels, offers a Full Scottish Breakfast. By “full” the Scots mean “complete,” but I promise you, full is what you’ll feel when you finish the last bite of that tattie scone.

You may be surprised at what you won’t see on the breakfast tables of most B&Bs in Scotland. Not waffles or French toast or pancakes, not muffins or bagels or Danish pastries, not egg casseroles or omelets, not potatoes or hash browns, and definitely not grits.

What is being served? Let’s head for the dining room and find out…

Breakfast Juices

Our first stop is a sideboard lined with cold starters. An assortment of juices. Plain yogurt with muesli to sprinkle on top. Fresh fruit, whole or chopped. Round, thin oatcakes, waiting for a skim of raspberry jam. And a selection of cereals, including Weetabix, which look like granola bars, but are in fact shredded wheat.

I found this out the hard way in New Zealand, where I sank my teeth into a bar of Weet-Bix, as they call it there, and thought I’d bitten into a hay bale. My Kiwi sisters are still laughing about that one.

Breakfast Tea

We return to the table with our yogurt and fruit, and discover piping hot tea waiting for us. Our teacups are flanked by a second pot of water—for thinning our tea when it gets too strong—a bowl of sugar lumps, and a pitcher of milk.

Someday soon I’ll write an entire post on the tradition of tea drinking in Scotland. For now, we’re sipping away and enjoying our yogurt, waiting for the hot food to appear.

Breakfast Porridge

A steaming bowl of porridge shows up first. Yum. 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) a generous spoonful of light brown Demerara sugar, and you’re ready to begin the day the way Scots have for centuries.

Breakfast Toast in Rack

Toast is next—white or wheat—cut diagonally, then slipped into a little rack to keep it crisp. I purchased such an item on my first trip, pledging never to serve toast any other way. Though it traveled home with me, I fear my toast rack has not surfaced in my kitchen since.

Butter isn’t little pats on paper squares but an enormous slab on a china plate. A pot of thick-cut orange marmalade is on the table along with creamy organic honey, often flavored by heather or wildflowers. Unlike our clear, amber-colored honey in a plastic bear, the Scottish version is more dense and less sticky, which makes it far easier to spread with a knife.

Yogurt, fruit, tea, porridge, and toast…breakfast enough, you might say. Yet here comes our host, bearing two hot plates and a smile.

Full Scottish Breakfast

Impressive, isn’t it? Let’s work our way round, starting at twelve o’clock:

  • 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)

I didn’t sample black pudding on my first twelve trips to Scotland because the ingredients sounded revolting: pigs’ blood, fat, oats, barley, and spices, all stuffed in a length of intestine. When a Galloway friend convinced me to try a good, local variety of black pudding, prepared by a skilled butcher, I had to admit it was tasty, even if the texture was mealy, the aroma earthy, and I chased every other bite with a gulp of OJ.

Why such a huge meal? Consider it your fuel for the day. No need to spend money or time on lunch. With a meal like this you’ll be good at least until afternoon tea.

Now that you have experienced a Full Scottish Breakfast, what’s the most memorable morning meal you had while traveling?