IN a week of big news stories, let’s focus in one of the biggest, as broken by The Times last Friday.

‘Britain says no to hash browns in the full English’, ran the headline of the announcement that culinary heritage group the English Breakfast Society are leading a campaign to have hash browns removed from our morning plates.

Instead, the group are advocating the return of bubble and squeak as a more traditional replacement.

I have to confess, my first thought on reading the news was, how do I join the English Breakfast Society? I love breakfast.

A group that meets to discuss breakfast – I’m hoping, over a large plate of bacon and eggs – sound my kind of people.

But my second thought was, what’s wrong with hash browns?

They’re not that bad, are they? I have to tread a little carefully here as a proportion of the population have very strong opinions as to what constitutes a ‘proper’ English breakfast.

The addition of hash browns is usually traced back to the early 1980s, when they started appearing on McDonald’s breakfast menus in the UK.

As such, traditionalists would argue that they have no place in a true British fry up.

A similar argument, however, can also be made (and had) about baked beans. Baked beans are every bit as American as hash browns in origin.

They didn’t start appearing regularly in fry ups until after the war, according to food writer Felicity Cloake – first as a ‘thrifty filler’ and later cemented by a joint 1960s ad campaign with Danish Bacon, offering prizes to pair bacon and beans together.

Traditionalists might want to turn away now, but Cloake goes on to argue in her breakfast-themed book Red Sauce Brown Sauce that the full English might not be as old as you might think: certainly, the concept didn’t appear in print until the 1930s.

Before that we ate all kinds of foodstuffs first thing: Pepys, for example, ate oysters, turkey pie and (dare I say it) the ‘hashed remains’ of the previous night’s supper.

It wasn’t until the nineteenth century that bacon and eggs became consistently popular, with the ‘full’ English only really reaching greasy-spoon ubiquity in the 1950s.

A survey by YouGov in 2017 (yes really) asked participants what they considered part of an ideal full English breakfast.

Top of the list was bacon (89 per cent), followed by sausage (82 per cent) and toast (73 per cent).

But then came beans (71 per cent), fried eggs (65 per cent) and – gasp – hash browns (60 per cent).

Those potato interlopers are now considerably more popular than mushrooms (48 per cent) grilled tomatoes (45 per cent) or black pudding (35 per cent).

The full English, metaphor alert, isn’t a fixed recipe, but one that changes and evolves over time.