Aylsham’s Big breakfast

Aylsham is the destination for the final weekend of the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival. As Emma Lee discovers, it's a town that's happy to live life in the slow lane.

What did you have for breakfast this morning? A bowl of cereal? A piece of toast? Or did you go to work on an egg? Whatever you chose, it's more than likely that it was wolfed down in a hurry.

Or, even worse, maybe you didn't eat breakfast at all – it's estimated that one in four adults skip breakfast during the week altogether, despite the fact that a healthy balanced breakfast can benefit your mood, physical and mental performance, weight and health.

And on October 7, Slow Food Aylsham is inviting people to get a proper start to the day.

The Big Slow Breakfast is held annually at Aylsham Town Hall and this year is the closing event of the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival.

An estimated 120 people – including festival patrons Richard Hughes, Vanessa Scott and Chris Coubrough – will tuck in to a full English breakfast featuring some fantastic local ingredients.

Slow Food Aylsham is part of an international movement which aims to promote the greater enjoyment of food through a better understanding of its taste, quality and production.

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It began in Italy in 1986, started by a journalist called Carlo Petrini as an alternative to fast food culture.

Slow Food Aylsham was formed in 2004 by Liz Jones and Mo Anderson-Dungar.

Since then, the market town has held an annual food festival in the early autumn and, for the second year running, it is one of the featured events at the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival.

Roger Willis, a self-confessed fan of the full English breakfast, is vice-chairman of Slow Food Aylsham.

As he explains, not only is it a chance to promote life in the slow lane, but it's a chance to enjoy some top quality produce.

'The bacon and sausage and tomatoes are all bought in town – the bacon and sausages are bought equally from the three butchers in town and the tomatoes are bought from Salad Days in the Market Place, which always supports the food festival,' he says.

There will also be croissants on offer, baked by members of Slow Food Aylsham.

'We did it for the first time last year under the tutelage of my wife, who recently retired as head of hospitality and catering at Aylsham High School. We produced about 150 croissants which went down very well,' said Roger.

There are around 20 members of Slow Aylsham, but what does living the slow lifestyle entail?

'My wife and I try to support local businesses as best we can,' says Roger. 'We are both mostly retired and we try and work with the community for the community.

'And we try and avoid dashing round too much, which isn't easy when you're organising a food festival,' he laughs.

Tickets for the Big Slow Breakfast on October 7 cost �6, from Salad Days and Barnwells in Aylsham Market Place.

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