“Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper.”
―author and nutritionist Adelle Davis
“All happiness depends on a leisurely breakfast.”
―journalist John Gunther
“I went to a restaurant that serves “breakfast at any time," so I ordered French toast during the Renaissance.”
― comedian Steven Wright
With apologies to Jane Austen, if it is a truth universally acknowledged that breakfast is the most important meal of the day (according to everyone, including – probably – your mother), it is also true that there are many opinions about the foods that make up a good one. What is on your plate when you “break your fast” in the morning each day is determined by a number of factors – where you live, what you are accustomed to eating, the availability of ingredients, how much time you have to spend preparing and consuming it, and your goal for the meal (fuel, decadence, or a bit of both).
The World of Food has covered cereal, eggs, potatoes, coffee, donuts, brunch (including French toast and breakfast cocktails such as the mimosa and the Bloody Mary), and yogurt, so you can learn most of what you might want to know about American breakfast traditions there. But what constitutes a morning meal in other countries? Let’s find out…
Great Britain – The English like to eat heartily at breakfast – a classic English breakfast typically consists of baked beans, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, bacon, sausage, a fried egg, and toast. A classic Irish breakfast is similar, but also includes black and white pudding (not a dessert, but sausage-like meat product) and tea instead of coffee.
Italy – Italians, on the other hand, don’t like to be weighed down at the start of the day, preferring just a slice of bread, perhaps a little yogurt, and coffee with milk. This is also true of…
Australia – They’ll have just a slice of toast with Vegemite or a bowl of Weet-bix, mate!
Spain – When in Spain, have a Spanish omelet with plenty of onions, ham, and cheese. Plus toast and coffee.
Russia – It’s always a good time to enjoy blintzes (or blini), but the Russians really love them for breakfast. For the initiated, these are thin pancakes similar to crepes, rolled with a sweet or savory filling. When more fiber is required, Kasha (a porridge made from ground buckwheat) is a popular option.
Japan – The Japanese are, as a rule, healthier than most, and their breakfast might be one of the reasons why. A balanced meal of boiled seafood, miso soup, tofu, rice, and soybeans is the norm.
Philippines – Filipinos love their breakfast rice, and tend to pair it with everything ranging from meats (beef, pork, seafood, and even SPAM and hot dogs!) to chocolate. If the meal includes rice, it’s a go.
Mexico – Tortillas are key here, in the form of chilaquiles with mole sauce. Another option, if more protein is needed, is tripe (cow’s stomach) with eggs.
Israel – If you’re a vegetarian and a fan of salad, this is a great choice for you. An Israeli salad, often eaten at breakfast, can include hummus, poached eggs, feta cheese, tomato, cucumber, olives, and tahini. Slices of pita bread round out the meal, and go especially well with the eggs.
Venezuela – Venezuelans love to breakfast on arepas. What are they? A round, unleavened patty made from maize or corn flour or meal that can be cooked in a variety of ways (steamed, baked, boiled, fried). They can be filled or topped with everything from meat, poultry, seafood, eggs, fruits and vegetables, butter, or almost anything else you like. Easy to make, arepas can be as healthy as you choose to make them, and are guaranteed to keep you going until lunch.
Which is pretty much the point of breakfast anyway, isn’t it?