We all remember as kids being told that ‘breakfast is the most important meal of the day’ by parents desperate for us to eat something before going out to school. I remember my entire teen years hardly ever eating breakfast but when I started work, it became a routine to get me through to lunch. This week sees the celebration of National Breakfast Week, seeing to inspire us with new ideas about the first meal of the day. So to join the celebration, I thought we would look at breakfasts around the world for some inspiration.
Most of us are familiar with the traditional breakfast elements in France such as the croissant or the baguette. Coffee is served with this and a sneaky dunking of the bread into it is common.
For Germans, breakfast also includes fresh breads along with butter, jam and local cheeses. They also serve a range of cold meats with their meal.
Pan con tomato is a Spanish dish serving grated tomato spread on toast in many households while a treat would come in the form of a churro, a fried-dough pastry that is dipped into hot chocolate or café con leche.
Griddle cakes, or pancakes as we know them, are big on a morning in Russia. One variation is the syrniki, made with cheese and then served with sour cream, jam, honey or apple sauce. Alternatively, kasha is a traditional dish of buckwheat with fried mushrooms.
China is a nation of great variation in food so the traditional breakfast can be very different from one region to another. One tradition that is enjoyed in many parts is the combination of ‘you tiao’ or fried dough sticks with a warm soy milk. Alternatively, hot soups such as congee are popular, as are dim sum.
India is another country with great regional variations but a breakfast tray containing chutneys, dips and breads is popular. These might include dosa, roti and idli to allow a combination that suits everyone’s tastes. Dosa is made with rice batter and black lentils while roti is a flat bread made from wholemeal flour. Idli is a savoury cake made again with rice and black lentils, fermented to break down starches and mean it can be digested easily.
Miso soup is one option for a traditional Japanese breakfast while steamed white rice, pickled vegetables and fish are popular. The Japanese omelette, called tamagoyaki, involved rolling several layers of cooked egg in a special pan and adding different ingredients including rice vinegar and soy sauce or shrimp puree and sake.In Turkey, breakfast is a platter of bread, cheese, butter, olives, eggs, jam, honey as well as tomatoes and cucumbers. Also added may be kaymak, a dairy product that is like clotted cream and made from the milk of cows, sheep, goats or even water buffaloes in different regions. Sucuk, a spicy sausage, can also be added and Turkish tea is the chosen drink.
The Philippine breakfast includes a portion of rice and a special local sausage called longganisa, made with spices that are found locally, so each region has its own variation. Salad and beans are also served with this.
The naan bread is used for Iranian breakfasts, often served with butter and tomatoes. The drink of choice for their breakfast table is tea.
For Brazil, strong coffee and milk are the drinks of breakfast while on their plate is a selection of ham, cheese and bread. For something warmer, a thick soup that is made with meats and black beans called Feijoada is served.
In Colombia, the arepa is the centre of the breakfast table. This is a dense corn cake that is a little bit sweet and can be served with butter or topped with eggs, jam or meat depending on preference.
Grilled buttered bread called tostada is the normal morning fare of the people in Cuba. This is served with café con leche and often dunked into it.Mexicans believe in a hearty breakfast to start the day with dishes such as huevos rancheros or chilaquiles being very popular. The former is known as ‘rancher’s eggs’ and uses a fried egg on a corn tortilla topped with a tomato-chili sauce, often with a side of refried beans. Chilaquiles uses the corn tortillas that are quartered and lightly friend then topped with salsa, sometimes with pulled chicken then garnished with cream. For those who want a lighter start, sweet rolls and coffee are considered a good choice.
Jamaicans tend to go fruity for their breakfast, with ackee being a favourite. This fruit looks a lot like scrambled eggs when cooked and is served with fresh fruit, fried plantains and even salted fish.
Hot cereal or porridge is a favourite among the homes of South Africa. This is often made with corn and is called putu pap.
In Ghana, waakye rice and black eyed peas make for a hearty breakfast to start the day. This is served with spinach in a tomato based stew as well as jollof rice, often said to be the West African version of pilaf or paella.