Traditional Breakfasts in other Countries
Updated: Jul 16, 2021
Are you not a "breakfast-person"? I used to think I wasn't one until I did some traveling in different parts of the world. I realized it wasn't that I didn't like breakfast, it was that the traditional American breakfast options did not appeal to me in the morning. I remember being in a remote village in the jungle of Thailand and sat down to bowl of rice that was then filled to the brim with a hot broth of chicken, green onions, lime juice and other greens. It was delicious, filling, but not uncomfortably so and it held me over perfectly until lunch even though I hiking in hot, humid weather.
Who said we had to eat strictly cereal, pancakes or eggs in the morning? If none of those are your cup of tea, why not try something else out? No where is it written we can't eat whatever we want for breakfast. Check out some of delectable options and ideas below.
Japan (pictured above)
Many morning meals consist of a selection of small plates, each with a few bites of a traditional Japanese dish. Fish such as salmon or mackerel, miso soup, pickled vegetables and rice are all represented. There's also tamagoyaki, a slightly sweet rolled omelet made from thin layers of egg in a rectangular pan that gives it its signature shape.
Fans of savory meals will love lablabi, a spiced chickpea soup. Chickpeas and harissa paste are the two constants in virtually every lablabi recipe, but the customizations of this simple, soul-warming soup are up to every cook.
Sometimes thickened with pieces of stale crusty bread, sometimes brightened by a squeeze of a lemon, sometimes made creamy with yogurt or topped with olives, there are infinite ways to enjoy it. Because it's often topped with a poached egg, it's a breakfast that will fill you up all day.
Ackee, a delicately sweet pear-shaped fruit, is sautéed with salt cod, tomatoes, garlic, chilies and onion in a breakfast scramble that brings together sweet, salty and spicy for a one-of-a-kind island taste. Though it looks similar to scrambled eggs, that's just the creamy yellow ackee, Jamaica's national fruit, in the dish.
Though it sounds indulgent, caviar is actually a Russian breakfast food. Whether red or black caviar, it remains a favorite topping for large, folded crepe-like blini or small, thick oladyi pancakes at weekend brunches.
On weekdays, however, breakfasts are simpler. On these mornings, caviar is spread across dark, sweet rye bread, known simply as black bread, sometimes with a smear of butter as well. Most importantly, a pot of black tea is a fixture on every breakfast table.
Ful medames, the national dish of Egypt is fava bean stew that some have suggested dates back to ancient Egyptian times. It is made with dried fava beans that are gently cooked and simply flavored. Once it is time to eat, small dishes of flavorings and aromatics like extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, chili flakes, crushed garlic, lemon and cumin are passed around. Other garnishes, like hard boiled eggs, cucumber and tomato salad, scallions and tahini, are also sometimes included.
Unlike many other parts of Europe, breakfast in Germany is a savory affair and consists of bread rolls, a selection of cured meats and cheeses, and perhaps and egg or two. There may be plateful of raw vegetables or a selection of jams and honey to accompany the bread, and it’s really a mix-and-match kind of spread and lets everyone make their own decision about the best way to fuel themselves for the day.
Israel (pictured above)
Shakshuka, a dish of eggs poached in a tomato sauce that’s flavored with onion, chili pepper, cumin, paprika, salt and pepper, is a dish commonly found at these buffet-style breakfasts.
In Korea, breakfast normally consists of banchan — an assortment of small side dishes, which are paired with rice. The banchan are set up communally in the center of the table along with soups or stews, and diners help themselves. Kimchi, namul (stir fried, steamed or marinated vegetables) jeon (a pan-fried, pancake-like dish) and gyeran-mari (a rolled omelet) are all different kinds of banchan.
Though the dish changes depending on the region, chilaquiles is a uniquely Mexican dish. Corn tortillas are cut into pieces and lightly fried, then simmered in salsa or mole until the tortillas begin to soften slightly. The mixture is then topped with any number and combination of garnishes — from crema or queso fresco to pulled chicken, raw onion, avocado or a fried egg — and usually accompanied by rice and beans.
Considered by many to be the national dish of Myanmar, mohinga is a breakfast noodle soup. Made with river catfish, vermicelli noodles, banana tree stems, lemon grass, onions, garlic, ginger, fish paste and fish sauce and garnished with lime juice, cilantro, spring onions and dried chiles, this soup is all about a balance of sweet, sour, salty and spicy flavors. What better way to shake the sleep from your eyes than with a bowlful of flavor?
In Nigeria and other parts of West Africa, fried bean cakes or fritters called kosai are a breakfast favorite. Made from black-eyed peas flavored with onions, dried chili and fresh red chili peppers and then deep-fried in oil, this street food is enjoyed either hot from the oil or wrapped and saved for later.
Among the most iconic and popular of Vietnamese breakfast foods is, of course, pho — a sustaining and delectable rice noodle soup with a clear broth (traditionally made with beef or chicken) that is topped with paper-thin slices of raw beef and an abundance or aromatic herbs, lime, crunchy bean sprouts and spicy fresh chiles, all of which cook together in the comforting heat of the soup.
Perhaps a bowl of your favorite cereal does the trick, but if that's not the case, try something completely new. Breakfast is indeed an important meal to kick off your metabolism and fuel up your day, but appetites can be tough to please first thing in the morning for many. Experiment! You never know when you will discover the perfect start to your day!