Café life in Britain.
Greasy spoons very rarely appear in guidebooks, but they are an essential part of life in the UK, especially for people living in the bigger cities. Current’s Sam Jordisan sings the praises of this great British institution.
In London, the capital city of the greasy spoon, there are hundreds and hundreds, fuelling the population with bacon, eggs and sausages. These small restaurants are so common and everyday – like baked beans or phone boxes – that they are barely even no oticed, but if greasy spoons were removed the country would be on its knees.
Greasy spoon cafes are so called because any cutlery that comes into contact with the food on offer is immediately coated with sticky, greasy layer of lard. It almost seems like an oily mist hangs in the air, as if fat drips from the walls. More calories can be found in a cup of tea in a good greasy spoon than in a whole meal at a no ormal restaurant.
The setting.
Greasy spoons are generally found slightly away from the main streets of most towns, on the shabbier roads. Always a bit dirty and down at heel, they usually have large ( grease coated ) glass windows, a plastic sign with th

he name of the café – usually containing the name of the owner e.g. Mario’s, Bob’s place, Rita’s café – and a huge menu offering a wide variety of artery clogging delights.
Inside they are generally clean, functional and scruffy. You’ll see old wooden seats, tables covered wit cracked linoleum and plain walls. Each table has on it a bottle of brown sauce, tomato ketchup and vinegar, and pots of salt and pepper. In the background, behind a chipped counter, are huge gleaming tea urns and a steaming kitchen where the gruff chefs work their magic.
The people.
In a typical greasy spoon, you will find people from all walks of life. Poets, drop – outs, hurrying businessmen, students lazing around with huge mugs of te ea. Some read novels, some stare into space, and others catch up on the day’s news. There will be young couples staring into each other’s eyes or lonely old men coming out for a change of scene. At weekend there will always be large groups of friends, recovering from a night on the town. They are all seriously stodgy grub.
The food.
The meals are dangerously unhealthy, and absolutely delicious. All kinds of fried food can be bought for incredibly low pr
rices. The centerpiece is usually the traditional English breakfast. Although it’s called a breakfast, it takes a brave soul to eat it first thing in the morning, because it’s huge. At least two pieces of bacon, two sizzling sausages, two fried eggs ( sunny side up ), fried mushrooms, baked beans and bread soaked in hot oil and fried. The very finest greasy spoons will also offer several pieces of black pudding – surprisingly tasty, considering hat it’s made from – wait for it – dried pigs’ blood and lard. The English breakfast is full of meat and fat. If you want something less filling, there’s still a lot to choose from; particular specialities are bacon or fried egg sandwiches ( or of course, bacon and egg sandwiches ). There is also often a range of vegetarian sausages and burgers.
Greasy spoons have some devoted followers. Tapping ‘Greasy Spoon’ into a internet search engine will bring up a hundreds of entries. One of the best sites is . With pictures, reviews, menus and stories, it’s the next best thing to going to a greasy spoon café yourself. But of course, noting can beat going to a real one – especially on an empty stomach.

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