Posted 29 March 2011 - 11:00 AM
Your guess is as good as mine, but I imagine that breakfast habits evolved around some conjunction of available ingredients, and fashion.
If I have much more than coffee for breakfast, all I can do afterwards is take a long and unrefreshing nap.
I grew up in Italy (where the popular breakfast in cities is still coffee and a croissant), and that might explain it, if it weren't for the fact that we moved back to the US before my parents even permitted me to drink coffee, and I was routinely required to force a bowl's worth of granola into my still-sleeping stomach before heading off to school each morning.
The Italians I know who are health conscious (which is, to some extent, fashion) may swap their croissant for a yogurt/fruit, perhaps even some muesli.
I had several German boyfriends, most of whom were old enough to feel that the only breakfast robust enough to get one going had to involve at least one species of sausage, a cereal (muesli in the summer, oatmeal in the winter), much bread, much coffee, juice of some sort, a pastry or two to fill up any remaining gaps, and, at weekends, perhaps a glass of beer. When I feebly asked whether this programme was usual, I was assured that this was the city version. The farmer's version typically took place several hours earlier, and was much more substantial. That was as much information as I was able to extract regarding the history of traditonal German breakfasts (visiting a friend in Berlin, however, I was relieved to find that she regarded such spreads as old-fashioned, and stuck to a coffee and a croissant).
In Denmark, old-school is similar to the traditional German breakfast (again, availability), modern is something by Kellogs, usually (fashion).
The willingness (or lack of it) to breakfast differently than usual probably varies a good deal from person to person (and perhaps how much of a morning person he or she is). Although the people I know (all of whom are at least partly Westernized) seem to go for something fairly close to their accustomed breakfasts when travelling, I don't recall ever seeing any of them minding very much about the absence of a particular breakfast food.
Perhaps certain cultures set more store than others on the importance of breakfast?