‘Extra bacon and no tomato please.’ How do we like our Ulster Fry?

What would you say is the best part of a good old Ulster Fry?

Melissa Shepherd of Piggotts ©Edward Byrne Photography INBL1506-279EB

Well according to Tesco, it’s the bacon.

They asked shoppers at their Banbridge store what they loved the most about a good fry-up and found that over 30% of locals looked forward to the bacon most of all.

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Next up were the sausages at just over 20%, closely followed by eggs and potato bread.

Mechelle Clydesdale and Staff Adele Symington, Andrea Moore and Marie Wilson of the Riverside in Dromore ©Edward Byrne Photography INBL1506-241EB

At the other end of the scale, it seems we can take or leave tomatoes - only 1.3% named those number one. Perhaps they were the vegetarians!

We asked some of our local cafes what they found were the most loved part of their Ulster Fry and they reckoned we weren’t quite as caught up with the meat as Tesco would have us believe.

“I think most people really love our breads, particularly our soda bread and potato bread,” said Wayne McEvoy, Manager at the Rose-hip.

“A lot of people would ask for more of that or more pancakes. After that, bacon is always a big part of it for people too.”

Wayne McEvoy from Rosehip Cafe & Bakery ©Edward Byrne Photography INBL1506-278PB

Piggott’s owner Stephen Morton agreed.

“Our customers really like the potato bread and the soda bread but I think they can take or leave the fried wheaten bread,” he said. “We just have the traditional Ulster Fry. Sometimes people will ask for beans but we don’t usually have those on it.”

Angela Magowan from Dromore’s Cafe Thyme did reckon the bacon and sausages were her customers’ favourite part but Greek Top Notch Cafe owner Costas Diamantidis noted distinct differences between the Ulster and English Fry.

“People over here really seem to like soda bread and potato bread,” he said. “I used to live in England and they don’t have any of that over there. They have hash browns or black pudding instead. Sometimes they might have potato bread but when I came over here, it was new getting all the soda bread in a fry.”

“I would say our most popular bit would be the bacon and potato bread as well,” said Riverside Tearooms’ Mechelle Clydesdale.

“People really seem to love our potato bread.

“They aren’t so keen on the tomatoes though. That would be the bit that people would leave out the most.”

Like Tesco’s research, the indifference towards a tomato was a fairly universal realisation - even if it did confuse Wayne from the Windsor, who looked forward to his tomato.

And what are the weirdest things Banbridge folk have a penchant for in their fry?

“The weirdest thing is probably when people ask for an egg without the yolk,” said Wayne.

Mechelle from the Riverside Tearooms was confused by some fry-eaters dousing theirs in salad cream.

Cafe Thyme, meanwhile, does a fry that’s not really a fry at all.

“We have a healthy fry which is very popular here,” said Angela. “It doesn’t have any fried bread and would have some brown bread or granary instead. It has a poached egg and everything is grilled rather than fried so there is no grease on it, which people like.”

Tesco’s research found the Ulster Fry remains a firm favourite, but the leading retailer is currently proving that Northern Ireland’s breakfast table has evolved down the years.

Tesco is staging a major in-store promotion to show local suppliers offer breakfast products to suit all tastes.

These days granola, nuts, seeds and grains from home are as readily available in Tesco NI’s 56-strong store network as bacon, potato bread and soda farls.

The ‘Enjoy A Northern Irish Breakfast’ initiative is part of the ongoing Tesco Taste Northern Ireland campaign aimed at supporting Northern Ireland food and its producers.

After all this, I’ll maybe have to pay one of our cafes a visit. No tomato please.