What do you eat for breakfast? How you answer this simple question actually tells a lot about your country’s traditions. We all know that food is a window into culture, and the first meal of the day takes on surprising importance in many places across the globe.
Of course, in many countries, modernization has caused a decline in the slow, rich meals we eat first thing in the morning. And, breakfast can take on regional nuances throughout a country. But, whether breakfast is just like lunch and dinner or has a special dish all its own, the most important meal of the day is designed to get your morning started right.
From Pakistan to Spain, the Myanmar to the United States, we’re continuing our food tour of the world with a look at what’s on the breakfast menu.
Read on for our tour of breakfast around the world in 17 dishes.
Also popular in many regions of India, aloo paratha is a potato stuffed, unleavened dough cooked on a hot tava with butter or ghee. It often comes served with butter, chutney, or a variety of spicy sauces.
Mexicans take their breakfast seriously, with a wide array of hearty recipes. In fact, some consider Mexico City one of the best breakfast cities in the world. You might want to try chilaquiles, which are fried tortillas topped with green or red salsa or mole. Shredded chicken and other side dishes like refried beans are often added. It’s a popular dish to create from leftovers given the variety of toppings and additions that can be piled on.
Breakfast varies widely across China, but you may want to snack on fried dough sticks called you tiao. They’re also known as Chinese donuts and are available across the Southeast Asia. People often dunk them in warm soy milk or congee.
Cappuccino and cornetto
Italians love a quick and simple breakfast that is mostly sweet. The classic cappuccino, a shot of espresso topped with steamed milk and froth and a cornetto. The cornetto—think of it as a cousin of the French croissant—is a breakfast pastry eaten plain or filled with jam, chocolate, or pastry cream.
Ackee and Saltfish
Jamaicans love a savory dish in the morning, with ackee and saltfish being their national dish. Ackee is a fruit that was imported into Jamaica from West Africa in the 18th century and is in the lychee family. When cooked, it has a taste and consistency similar to scrambled eggs. Ackee and saltfish is made by sauteeing salted cod and boiled ackee together with onions, tomatoes, and spices. It’s often accompanied by rice and peas or plain white rice.
Changua, an egg and milk soup, is popular for breakfast in Bogotá. It is often served with a piece of stale bread called calado that softens inside the warm soup.
These cheese stuffed fritters are not only typical of Ukraine, but also Russia, Belarus, Lithuania, and Serbia. They are filled with quark, a fresh-set cheese made by warming soured milk until it curdles. The warm, creamy centers make for a sweet dish that is often served with fruit preserves.
Pan a la Catalana
Also known as Pan con Tomate, this delicious dish originated in Spain’s Catalan region. All it takes is rubbing slices of bread with fresh garlic and tomato and topping with a drizzle of olive oil. Simple and effective.
There’s nothing more Australian than a thick layer of vegemite slathered on toast. Made from brewers’ yeast extract, Vegemite was invented in 1923 and has become one of Australia’s beloved food staples.
Genfo is a wheat or barley based porridge traditionally eaten for breakfast or when a new child is born. A small indentation on top of the thick, sticky porridge is filled with niter kibbeh—butter clarified with spices—and flanked by scoops of plain yogurt.
More than a single dish, Turkish breakfast is defined by the lavish spread of small plates. Bread, honey, olives, cheeses, and jam are just some of the items on a Turkish breakfast table. Baked items like börek—a filled pastry made from phyllo dough— and simit—a circular bread encrusted with sesame seeds—may also make their way onto the menu.
Eggs, bacon, and hash browns
There are many items that make a traditional American breakfast—pancakes, French toast, donuts—but we’ve opted by something savory. Any number of variations on the Lumberjack breakfast—eggs, bacon, hash browns, and toast—are a staple of any good breakfast menu across the United States.
There’s nothing like a nice heaping bowl of hafragrautur—oatmeal—to make it through the cold, Icelandic winters. The dish is often served topped with butter, brown sugar, or raisins. And for added vitamins, a tablespoon of lýsi—cod liver oil—makes sure that vitamin D levels are kept up when days of darkness creep in.
A traditional German breakfast, or frühstuck, doesn’t require a lot of cooking. A meat-heavy affair, platters of sliced meats and cheeses are accompanied by a variety of bread and jams.
This breakfast dish is also the national dish of Myanmar and can be found sold at roadside stalls or by street vendors across the country. A rice noodle and fish soup, there are regional variants but the main components are chickpea flour, garlic, lemongrass, fish paste, ginger, fish sauce, and catfish.
Cafe con leche and tostada
Cafe con leche is a traditional drink that is enjoyed universally and is made with either whole milk or a combination of whole and evaporated milk. Once heated, a shot of strong coffee is added. Breakfast is rounded off by a tostada, which is a grilled piece of bread buttered inside and out.
Full Irish Breakfast
The full breakfast in Ireland is a slight variation on what you’ll find in England and Scotland. All variations include a fried egg, toast, baked beans, sausage, fried tomato, and sautéed mushrooms. In Ireland, you’ll also find white pudding and black pudding added to the plate and brown soda bread in place of white bread toast.