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Breakfast around the world

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And in Israel and other parts of the Middle-East it might be said that "a breakfast without olives is like a day without sunshine"

Oh Daniel I was going to post about Israeli breakfasts but you got ahead of me. My first stint in Israel on a Kibbutz I was your typical ugly American wondering why the hell I was eating salad for breakfast..a few days later I was converted: "salat" of tomatoes (the best in the world i am certain),cucumbers (beautifully unwaxed), with some lemon juice and olive oil, various cheeses hard and soft, yogurt (which i can't comment on as it on of the lone foods I abhor), pita, olives and olives and more olives..eggs, which I loved with the Israeli spicy condiment Shug (Zhug). Oh and turkish coffee...fly me home...

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One of the best breakfasts I have ever had was at a hotel in Krakow, Poland. There were platters laden with sliced peasant style bread, a mild white cheese, chopped onions, and sliced tomatoes. The tomatoes were perfection - ripe and flavorful. On the side was sweet butter. We made open faced sandwiches that I still remember vividly almost twenty years later. Had that same breakfast for the five days we were there. I don't know if this is in any way typical (in Hungary we were served cold cuts and breads), but the memory still lingers.

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When we were in Korean researching 'Flavours' we stayed at the Un Dang Yogwan, a famous old traditional inn in Uni-dong that I'm afraid is no longer there.

Passing through the gateway to the inner courtyard was like walking into another era: the pagoda-roofed buildings were arranged around the courtyard, each with a series of individual, paper-screened cells; on one side there was a larger more spacious series of rooms (what must formerly have been the anbang -- the main living area); and on another, there was a sunken kitchen where we could see women preparing foods over blackened, coal-fired ranges.

We took off our shoes to enter our tiny room, for the raised floor was spotless and shiny, covered with the most beautiful golden lacquered paper. Apart from some folded bedding and a small table, there was no furniture in the room, so we sat and lived on the warm ondol floor.

Breakfast was the same as dinner had been the night before: a boy brought us a small, low table laden with no less than fifteen round dishes, bowls and saucers: there were two types of kimchi, one a quite fantastic hot and sour winter kimchi, and the other an altogether milder nabak kimchi, fresh, crunchy slices of radish and cabbage in water. There was also a selection of namul: muu saengchae, chui and sigumchi namul; some strips of meat in kochujang; a piece of dried pollack fried in batter; a pile of crisp tasima -- strips of kelp deep-fried in sesame oil; bowls of twoenjang tchigae, a soupy bean paste and curd stew. We washed this remarkable repast down with bori cha.

My guess is that in modern Korea today the inhabitants of the big cities rarely eat such sumptuous breakfasts, but that in the country more substantial repasts might still be the norm, especially for people who work outside in the fields and need energy.

Indeed, big, substantial breakfasts would have been common worldwide, in country areas where agricultural labour was or still is the norm - I've read descriptions in Britain of vast morning meals enjoyed by farmers before work, or at elevenses.

It's interesting to note that in many cultures, there is no significant difference between foods for breakfasts and food for other meals (lunch or dinner).

Personally, my favourite breakfasts are in Mexico: chiliquiles, huevos rancheros with salsa verde, tamales - big, rich, substantial meals in their own right.

(I also admit to being quite fond of cold leftover pizza and I can quite happily devour leftover spaghetti.)

Worst breakfasts are in Italy - hard to believe that in a country where such importance is placed on great food, that for most Italians the day starts with caffè latte and sweet biscuits. (The buffet breakfasts described above are not really Italian at all in my experience, but are mainly in hotels catering to foreigners - that said, whenever I've met Italians over breakfast, they delight in enjoying the buffet).

MP


Edited by Marco_Polo (log)

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Ah, breakfast! I adore the range of breakfast choices available in Singapore. As befitting its multi-cultural heritage, Singaporeans are spoilt for choice. When living in New York, about the only thing I missed dearly about Singapore food was the breakfast. Now, I like toasted bagels with cream cheese, as well as greasy diner breakfasts of eggs, sausages and home fries, but it all became a little predictable.

Whereas, in Singapore, the choices are limitless. For example, every day, one is confronted with having to decide among, for example:

- fried noodles (either thick wheat noodles, thin rice noodles or flat rice noodles) served with an assortment of your choice of eggs, luncheon meat, chicken wings, fish cakes, sausages (all fried) or steamed otak (mashed fish seasoned and bound with a spicy coconut paste), accompanied with sambal belachan if you like, or some chopped green chilis

- nasi lemak, which is basically coconut-flavored steamed rice served with an assortment of side dishes including any of the above, as well as sliced cucumbers and fried peanuts and ikan bilis (tiny fish fried to a crisp)

- roti prata (the Singapore term for roti canai), fried flat Indian breads served with various curries

- congee/porridge/jouk, usually served plain with boiled peanuts and a few thin slices of fish cake, or else with minced meat (usually chicken or pork); a raw egg cracked right into the steaming bowl is optional, and garnished with some finely chopped cilantro, spring onions or ginger

- chee cheong fun, which are steamed rolls made of rice flour and topped with your choice of thin soya sauce, a thickish sweet flour sauce, sesame seeds and chili sauce (it is not uncommon to opt for all of these toppings)

- a common accompaniment to the chee cheong fun would be steamed yam cake

- a variety of Teochew kuehs such as soon kueh (filled with a mixture that usually comprises shredded turnip, bamboo shoots, mushrooms and dried shrimp), koo-chai kueh (filled with chives), peng kueh (filled with glutinuous rice and peanuts), ang koo kueh (filled with a sweet bean paste)

- a variety of Nyonya kuehs

- a variety of curry puffs (choose between plain curried potato filling, spicy sardine, or chicken curry with potato and hard-boiled egg)

- toast spread with a thick pat of butter, a generous layer of kaya (a jam made with coconut milk, many many eggs and pandan) and soft boiled eggs, washed down with strong black tea or coffee

- soya bean milk and yu tiao (fried dough fritters)

- mee siam/lontong/mee soto/mee goreng

- noodles with soup and either fish balls, wonton or shrimp and pork slices

- fried pieces of steamed radish cake with egg and sweet black sauce (cha tow kueh)

- steamed rice flour cakes topped with fried salty, preserved radish bits (chwee kueh)

And these choices are all easily available everywhere in Singapore, including the central business district.

Some of my friends in New York could not conceive of eating any of the above for breakfast (fried bread and curry at 8am ??? oh my gawd!), but I am making me hungry for breakfast in Singapore!

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I think I never said what we eat in northern India for breakfast.

In my family (I am SO not a morning person), a drag myself out of bed to make dalia - porridge made from cracked wheat. Uncooked, it's rather like bulgur, but I've tried making it from bulgur outside of India, and get the thumbs down from my husband every time. It's eaten with milk and sugar.

Less lazy people might make more elaborate breakfast foods, like curried chickpeas served with deep fried breads (chole batura). :wub:

Our neighbours used to make this fresh daily. Fresh meaning that they started cooking the chickpeas in their pressure cooker at about 4 am every morning. I never asked them, but I presume they were very orthodox Hindu and, as such, were against the use of leftovers (all foods should be freshly cooked).

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Worst breakfasts are in Italy - hard to believe that in a country where such importance is placed on great food, that for most Italians the day starts with caffè latte and sweet biscuits.

MP

I don't think the Italian breakfasts are "worst". I think they are only different due to a differen food culture.

For us breakfast is important, but it isn't the most important meal of the day...

Breakfast is usually sweet, exceptions are not rare and depend on the family habit.

For example, I don't dislike eggs, prosciuto, salame and so son for breakfast but I come from a family (grandparents) of farmer that work hard in the early morning and need more than 4 biscuits at breakfast.


Edited by Staximo (log)

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At the hotels we stayed at in Italy, there were always meats available, and also some delicious stewed prunes that were absolutely addictive. This was at maybe 4-5 hotels in both Tuscany and Emilio-Romagna.

The hotels I stayed at in Italy that provided breakfast had bread and cornetti accompanied by jam (marmelata) and butter, with water/juice/caffe latte/tea/hot chocolate/milk to drink, and perhaps some fresh fruit. No meat for breakfast in those hotels. What level of luxury were the hotels you were staying at? We stayed at relatively inexpensive hotels, mid-priced at times. Some were classy, some weren't, but none were expensive luxury places.

We went in February, so I was able to get us into 4 star hotels everywhere at a really low rate.

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(The buffet breakfasts described above are not really Italian at all in my experience, but are mainly in hotels catering to foreigners - that said, whenever I've met Italians over breakfast, they delight in enjoying the buffet).

Undoubtedly correct. Hotels usually DO cater to foreigners, rather than locals.

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Russian breakfast.

First of all, to make sure my family was not the weird one, I looked through the “What I had for breakfast today” thread on one of the Russian cooking forums. My information basically corresponds to what the folks there had to say :smile:.

- Porridge (“kasha” in Russian) made from rice, oatmeal, buckwheat, etc. cooked with milk (usually for children);

- Eggs fried with pork fat, ham, sausage (often bologna-type), hotdogs, etc. or omelet;

- Pancakes, bliny (crepes) or syrniki (sort of like pancakes made with farmer’s cheese);

- French toast (often not sweet);

- And most often: simply a cup of tea or coffee with an open-face sandwich (bread + butter, jam, cheese, cold cuts.

My earliest memory from childhood is breakfast of a boiled egg, bread-and-butter and instant coffee with milk (coffee! what was my mom thinking? :biggrin:). Also, milk-noodle soup.

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Worst breakfasts are in Italy - hard to believe that in a country where such importance is placed on great food, that for most Italians the day starts with caffè latte and sweet biscuits.

MP

I don't think the Italian breakfasts are "worst". I think they are only different due to a differen food culture.

For us breakfast is important, but it isn't the most important meal of the day...

Correct. My theory is that Italians eat small breakfasts because they want to eat five coarse dinner or three coarse dinner later: with anitpasto, primi piatti, dessert, meat or fishand all. But that's just my theory.

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I was always amazed at the difference between breakfasts in Greece and Turkey, considering that everything that is Greece today was once Turkey, or at least Ottoman; some of it until early in this century. In Greece, breakfast tends to be a cup of Greek coffee, or some bread eaten along with hot milk into which a half teaspoon of Nescafe has been mixed. (It's definitely in the Nescafe belt...) Nowadays lots of people just drink ice coffee. Here in Turkey it's a real production. Perhaps it has to do with the fact that Turks tend to hit the sack earlier while the Greeks often *meet* to go out at midnight, and going out usually involves eating; they don't feel like eating in the morning?

Some people previously mentioned breakfasts in hotels made of tomato, cucumber, cheese, bread, honey/jam and lots of tea. True enough but if you go to someone's house, especially if its a bit rural, the practice is close to "unload the refrigerator and ask questions later," the aforementioned list being just the backbone. It may also include yogurt, eggs either boiled or cooked with tomatoes as "menemen," a pile of herbs like parsley and mint with lemon juice squeezed over it, halvah (either sesame or one of the others), kaymak (a sort of clotted cream), and may even go to all sorts of warm dishes based on tomatoes, onions, cheese, walnuts, peppers...the list goes on. Other things that may show up are "simit" (sesame-covered bread rings), börek (phyllo stuffed with spinach, cheese, meat or nothing), pogaça (little folded over rolls filled with cheese or other things), açma (a rich moist roll that is hard to describe, that may contain cheese, olive paste or meats). Often if you go to someone's house at almost any time of the day and they want to feed you but haven't cooked "real food," they might throw together a "breakfast" including any of the things mentioned above and other thing I haven't mentioned. One thing that seems to be usually absent is fresh fruit except perhaps melon; couldn't say why. I think you could write an entire cookbook just based on the things people make for breakfast!

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I had a delicious breakfast today in Istanbul that got me thinking about all the great breakfasts to be had around the world. What's your favorite?

Today I had menemem-- tomatoes, sweet green pepper, and juicy scrambled eggs baked in a copper bowl with a side of fresh cheeses, olive, and cucumbers. hot black tea and freshly squeezed pomegranate juice. yummm.

In Mexico I love the breakfast often served at baptisms and first communions-- tamales with all sorts of filling, both savory and sweet, a cup of piping hot guava atole + a plate of whatever fruit is in season. But there are a millions breakfast options available. Same in the US, so much to choose from.

What are your favorites? I've come up with a bunch of European options but would love to hear your favorite breakfasts from around the world. Asia? Africa? South America?

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Some of my favorites are the roadside stalls in India, Thailand and other South East Asian countries selling omelets with onion, chilies and occassionally garlic.

Another favorite is idili (a steamed rice and semolina cake) Sambar (a spicy soup like dip) or dosa (savory crepe) from South India.

In Europe I prefer croissants and good coffee except if I am in the UK, when I try to get the full English breakfast.

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A classic breakfast for Atlantic Canada could be a scone, a fish cake and an egg, served with hot orange pekoe tea.

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In New Jersey a common breakfast is the Bacon or Sausage or Taylors Pork Roll and Fried Egg and American Cheese Sandwich served on a chewy "Hard Roll" or a bagel.

At home I make French Toast and Bacon alot.

tracey

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I am a very adventuresome eater and will try almost anything - for lunch or dinner. But at breakfast, I am a total southern American - eggs, pork, potatoes and bread for me please.

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In Manila a typical weekend breakfast would be: A cup (or two) of garlic fried rice, a whole smoked boneless Milkfish (butterflied) with chopped tomatoes and onions and some sliced brine-salted red eggs on the side. Dipping sauce is fish-sauce with a squeeze of local lime.... burp!

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wow! that manila breakfast sounds incredible! it's interesting that most "typical" breakfasts are on the heavier side...no granola with nonfat yogurt!

other breakfasts i've really enjoyed:

NYC: Everything bagels with smoked salmon, plain cream cheese, capers, tomatoes, onions and a squeeze of lemon juice. Breakfast tacos with potato, egg, and cheese in South Texas.

In Belgium, slices of fresh bread with a slew of jams and spreads and a tartine with some greens and a nice bit of protein.

I've always been a little disappointed by breakfasts in Italy. It's a pastry and a cappuccino. delicious but not very nutritious-- loads of sugar with nothing to balance it out so early in the day.

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My favourite breakfasts are upma or idli-sambar. Wouldn't say no to a paratha though!

I cannot stand sweet breakfasts. Generally I prefer savoury over sweet anyway, but I especially cannot abide sweet things early in the morning.

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wow! that manila breakfast sounds incredible! it's interesting that most "typical" breakfasts are on the heavier side...no granola with nonfat yogurt!

Well that is breaking-the-fast for you! If you think the milkfish breakfast is filling some common alternatives are: thinly sliced beef marinated in a sugar soy sauce mixture (called beef tapa) and panfried till the sugar caramelizes or how about fried garlic pork sausage then pair this with some sweet pickled shredded unripe papaya. Talk about a power breakfast. I think some countires have light breakfasts out of necessity and time. if you want to get a feel of what a traditional breakfast is, you really should go to the countryside where they have the time to prepare it.


Edited by heidih fix quote tags (log)

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Whenever I'm in Asia, I'm always at the congee part of the breakfast bar. Rice porridge with all manner of savoury additions is a perfect breakfast. In Thailand, it can be found as Khao Tom.

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I love the traditional Japanese breakfast with fish, miso soup, omelet, rice or (my choice) porridge and various pickles.....

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Southern girl here, too. Love biscuits and gravy with bacon, but for a full-fledged weekend breakfast: grits with butter, eggs sunny side up (cut up with yolk mixed with the grits), bacon or sausage (or sometimes even a fried pork chop) and toast with butter and mayhaw jelly. Then no lunch and an early supper :biggrin:

When I visit NY, I love to have a bagel with smoked salmon, cream cheese, red onions & capers.

Rhonda

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Gallo pinto (rice and beans) plate breakfast (which would include eggs, cheese, fruit, etc.) in Costa Rica is very tasty.

I'm a real sucker for the nutella served in Italian hotel breakfast rooms, slathered on bread, croissants, whatever you have available, and polished off with apricot yogurt. Italian nutella is different from American nutella.

Any breakfast must include the local coffee and the darker, stronger, blacker, richer, racier, the local coffee, well, the better.

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In my part of NJ, a common deli breakfast is a "belly buster" which is generally a combination of bacon, sausage, pork roll, fried potatoes, fried bell peppers, fried onions (sometimes) over easy or scrambled eggs, and a large amount of cheese, topped with salt, pepper, and ketchup, all on a long sub roll that's been toasted. There's variations, of course. Then there's the classic "pepper and egg sangweetz". I'm turning green just thinking about it. I opt for toast and coffee, while watching my companion put one of these away.

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