Breakfast Around the World
It's 7 AM somewhere. What are you eating?
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United Nations of Breakfast
It's impossible to determine the single most-common breakfast dish for an entire nation. Trust us, we tried. In America, for example, the breakfast of choice might be bacon and eggs, or smoothie bowls, or fluffy buttermilk pancakes — all depending on who you ask. Regardless, most countries have a signature dish that stands out as uniquely theirs. In Mexico, it's chilaquiles, and in Spain, it's churros dipped in hot chocolate. And, no matter where you are on the map, you're going to need to jumpstart your morning, whether you choose something light and sweet or filling and savory for your fuel. Here are fifteen of the most-popular breakfast dishes enjoyed across the globe. If you wake up in one of these destinations and want to start your day like a local, consider this your guide.
There's a compelling theory that Australian hipsters are responsible for America's current obsession with avocado toast and grain bowls. Smashed avo has been in a thing in Australian cafes for years, and if you're having one, you're probably pairing it with a flat white — an espresso adjusted with a tiny amount of milk foam.
And you also had a rough night? You're sitting down to a bowl of changua, a rustic milk-based soup. Usually, there will be a poached egg or two in the broth and scallions and cilantro scattered on top. It's served with bread: either on the side for dipping, or in crouton form floated on top.
You'll grab a platter of ful medammas with a hot, fresh pita and maybe some hard-boiled eggs or pickled veggies on the side. Ful is a chunky stew of long-cooked dried fava beans mashed with garlic, tahini, cumin, and lemon juice — sort of hummus-esque, but richer and with a lot more textural variation. It’s super-popular in Cairo and can also be found in various iterations across the world: there’s an Aleppo-pepper-and-olive-oil-heavy version in Syria, and a similar dish exists in Ethiopia, served with injera.
You're probably starting down a plate of eggs, pork sausages, bacon (usually back bacon, which includes a broad strip of loin), a slice each of fried black pudding and white pudding, fried tomatoes and soda bread (sometimes potatoes). It's called the Full Irish, which is what you'll be after eating it.
You're sitting down to shakshuka, a dish of North African origin, featuring eggs poached in a thick tomato, pepper and onion sauce spiked with cumin and paprika. In Israel, you'll usually see it served with a stack of pita or a few slices of challah for sopping up every last drop.
This is literally the only time of day it's acceptable to have milk in your coffee, so make the most of it. Have a milky cafe latte or cappuccino alongside your cornetto (the croissant's sweeter cousin).
You're having ackee and saltfish. Ackee is a fruit with fat yellow arils that cook up to a lush texture somewhere between scrambled eggs and tofu. Saltfish is exactly what it sounds like: salted cod, which is soaked to remove some of the excess salt before getting fried up in a pan with onions, garlic, peppers and the ackee.
You're probably having miso soup with a bowl of rice topped with something: either simple grilled fish, or soft-cooked egg, or natto (fermented soybeans) and scallions. There's also the oyakodon, which is a bowl of rice that happens to also solve the chicken or egg conundrum: it's topped with both.
You're having chilaquiles — leftover corn tortillas fried then bathed in salsa and usually topped with fried eggs, sliced radishes, scallions and cilantro. Or you're having pan dulce, sweet, eggy breads that come in countless regional variations.
Get the Recipe: Chicken Chilaquiles with Salsa Verde
In the Netherlands
You'll most likely find sliced white bread spread with butter and then topped with cold cuts, cheese, thick apple syrup, or chocolate sprinkles (called hagelslag, or hailstorm). Pair that with a coffee and you're set to go.
In the Philippines
You're having eggs, meat and garlicky fried rice. The meat can vary — it may be sausages or pork loin, Spam or stir-fried beef, dried fish or marinated fresh milkfish — but the glorious trio of eggs, meat and rice is a constant. There might be a side of banana ketchup made from bananas, vinegar, spices and food coloring to make it red (it's a little less sweet and a little more sour than tomato ketchup) as well.
You're sitting down to a plate of kaya toast: thick-cut white bread toasted and smeared with kaya jam, a sweet paste made from coconut, eggs, sugar and pandan leaf (which is sort of vanilla-y in aroma), then topped with a fat chunk of butter. It's served with soft-boiled eggs drizzled with soy sauce and a cup of hot coffee or tea on the side.
You're dunking cinnamon-sugar coated churros into thick, dark hot chocolate. Or you're having a piece of crusty bread rubbed with garlic and tomatoes or smeared with butter and topped with thin slivers of ham. It's not a huge meal: lunch is a much bigger event and you've got to save room.
You'll have what they call a breakfast taco (even though it's a little more burrito-esque in form): a flour tortilla filled with eggs plus some combination of bacon, cheese, dried beef, potatoes, chorizo, beans or peppers, rolled into a fat cigar for optimum no-mess eating.
It'll be a big bowl of the steaming noodle soup called pho. Expect long rice noodles, an aromatic broth, sliced meat (usually beef) and an array of toppings (there are regional differences, but can include herbs, sprouts, chiles and sweet and hot sauces). These days you can get pho almost any time of day, but historically it was only a breakfast dish.