In the US, breakfast food is revered as the most important meal of the day. The phrase conjures up childhood memories of our parents, doctors and teachers drilling this in our heads since grade school. Breakfast is vital because it should provide you with the necessary nutrients and energy to make it through the day. Depending on the person, breakfast can be a smorgasbord of sweets-pancakes, waffles and biscuits dripping in honey come to mind. Or it can be savory- eggs, bacon, sausages and other hearty foods can fill your plate in the mornings. It can also be as simple as a piece of toast or yogurt with granola.
Even if you’re one of the many who skipbreakfast (we won’t tell), breakfast food is still a big deal in American culture. So much so that we’ve created an entire culture around indulging in breakfast foods outside of breakfast hours. We’ve got brunch, breakfast for dinner, National Pancake Day, and much more dedicated to our love of breakfast.
While many Americans plates may be filled with eggs, waffles and bacon, what does breakfast look like in other countries? Looking at what foods are eaten in the morning is a window into the gastronomy and culture of another country. From healthy to hearty, to spicy to simple and fresh, each dish is a unique lens into the food culture of these countries. Buckle up as we take you around the world to see what the most important meal of the day looks like.
5.) Bangladesh: Aloo Bhaji and Roti/Parata
We start our journey in the South Asian country of Bangladesh, nestled on the border of East India and the Bay of Bengal. In Bangladesh, a typical breakfast meal can be many things like a combination of dal (lentils), sabzi (mixed vegetables) and paratha (flat bread) . One of the most common things to have at breakfast is paratha or roti, a thinly sliced flat bread served with some type of side dish. Aloo Bhaji is a delicious potato dish with spices like turmeric, cumin and green chilis. The potatoes are cut into small pieces and stir fried in a pan with olive oil. This dish is vegetarian, tasty and can be made in less than 15 minutes. If the thought of this dish makes your mouth water, check out this easy recipe here.
4.) Mexico: Chilaquiles
In the USA we’re no strangers to Mexican-inspired food, but many of are strangers to authentic Mexican dishes. Outside of fajitas and quesadillas, knowledge of the rich gastronomy in Mexico may be limited for the average American. When it comes to Mexican breakfast, you’ve got the notable huevos rancheros, migas and pan dulce and several other delicious dishes to choose from.
A traditional breakfast dish from Mexico is the hearty chilaquiles. The basic recipe for chilaquiles is essentially fried tortilla strips fried in either green or red salsa. There are several regional variations that can include toppings like eggs, cheese and shredded chicken. Chilaquiles are great because the recipe is fairly simple with inexpensive ingredients. However, the key to making them taste so great is in the salsa.
3.) Nigeria: Yam and Eggs
Eggs as a staple breakfast food can be found in many cultures though they are prepared differently from country to country. One thing that remains the same is: they’re good. In Nigeria, a staple breakfast dish is yam and egg sauce, which will both make your mouth water and fill you up for hours. Firstly, the ‘egg sauce’ is simply eggs scrambled with peppers, onions and many spices. The eggs are then served on top of boiled or fried yam, a root or tuber that can be found as a base in many Nigerian dishes.
This spicy dish is a quick, delicious breakfast that can be whipped up and served in minutes to start the day or enjoyed on a lovely Saturday morning with the family. Either way, yam and eggs are a filling and tasty way to start the day.
2.) Lebanon: Ful Mudammas
One of the most popular breakfast dishes in Lebanon and other Middle Eastern countries is ful moudamas, a delicious medley of Fava beans and chopped vegetables. The Fava beans are soaked in an olive oil and lemon juice mixture and then served with chopped onion, tomatoes and cucumbers. Some variations are spicing it up with pine nuts, cumin and other spices to give it a kick. Ful moudamas is an extremely healthy, vegetarian option that will have you full for hours: it’s packed with protein and fiber. It can be enjoyed with Lebanese flat bread or eaten alone.
If you start from scratch with uncooked Fava beans, then this recipe could be time consuming. With a base of cooked Favas you’re looking at about an hour cooking time, making this recipe a great one for a Saturday or Sunday breakfast or brunch. Check out the traditional recipe here.
1.) Hong Kong: Dim Sum
While Dim Sum may be something that Americans would designate for lunch or dinner, Dim Sum is traditionally enjoyed for breakfast or a late lunch. Dim Sum is a term for an array of small, bite-sized dishes served in steamer baskets or on small plates. Starting your day with a variety of different types of dim sum accompanied with endless tea is a big Cantonese tradition. A common dish in Hong Kong is Cheong Fun- a steamed rice roll– served with yau char kwai or Chinese fried crullers. Couple the cheong fun with a light soy sauce and some morning tea and you’ve got a traditional Hong Kong breakfast or even a light snack that you can enjoy during the day.
Exploring traditional meals around the world teaches us about what brings people together across the globe. What does traditional breakfast look like in your home? Comment below!