Up until recent times, breakfast was not considered “the most important meal of the day,” and was rather a lackluster meal consisting of not much more than bread and a hot drink to “break the fast” of not eating since the night before. We really have the British Empire to thank for the large quantities of delicious and often fatty foods that make up our modern breakfasts.
Breakfast — as the world knows it today — is very reflective of “the Full English Breakfast” and usually contains toasted bread, eggs, and an assortment of meats. Even though much of the world is now eating their own versions of the English and American breakfasts, each country has their own local and traditional breakfast items and dishes. Here are some of the best traditional breakfast food dishes from around the world:
Full English Breakfast — United Kingdom
A heavy and often greasy platter of breakfast favorites, the Full English Breakfast usually consists of toast, bacon, sausage, baked beans, poached or fried eggs, ham steak, sauteed mushrooms and a seared tomato. The exact sides that are included can change from one part of England to another; for example: in Cornwall, it is common to see “Hog’s Pudding” — a type of sausage — added in place of breakfast sausages, and other parts of the country may opt for blood sausages or even cockles (clams) in Wales.
Full Irish Breakfast — Ireland
Much like the Full English Breakfast, the Irish add their own flair to this large platter of breakfast items for what is unofficially called “The Full Irish Breakfast.” Changes to the inclusions in Ireland include the use of Irish soda bread instead of toast, black and white pudding instead of English sausage, and potatoes are usually added to the mix, either as a mash or fried.
American Breakfast — United States | U.S.
Often called a “Hotel Breakfast” or “Continental Breakfast,” the American Breakfast is a spinoff of the Full English Breakfast, containing heaping portions of several breakfast items including: two eggs (cooked to preference), sliced and fried bacon, toast with jam of butter, pancakes with maple syrup, and corn flakes. This type of breakfast has become popular all over the world — being served in nearly every hotel in every country — and is often considered “The Breakfast.”
Haggis, Neeps & Tatties — Scotland
A very traditional breakfast, the Scottish breakfast is really a collection of leftovers reheated for a morning meal, but can be cooked fresh in the morning. The star of this dish is haggis, comprised of ground sheep’s heart, liver and lungs, minced onion, oats, and spices — all stuffed into a sheep’s stomach. While this sounds a bit strange, it is actually very delicious and has the texture of browned ground beef with a lamb flavor. The “Neeps and Tatties” are simply boiled and mashed turnips and potatoes.
Facturas — Argentina
The mornings in Argentina are filled with the sweet aroma of facturas being baked in the many panaderias (bakeries) for a rush of breakfast customers. Sweet pastries that are baked to perfection, these sweet breads are covered with coarse sugar and are often filled with sweet fillings such as dulce de leche, custard, or quince paste. They are most often eaten alongside a strong cup of hot coffee and often accompany churros (Spanish donuts) .
Ful Medames — Egypt
Sometimes simpyy called fūl (Fool), or foul, this is the staple breakfast item in Egypt and popular in surrounding Middle Eastern countries. This dish is made up of cooked and mashed or whole cooked fava beans, lightly dressed with cumin and vegetable oil and served alongside boiled eggs. The dish is commonly eaten with pieces of flat bread and is the most popular breakfast item due to its simplicity, excellent taste, and is one of the world’s first fast food breakfasts.
Rarebit — Wales
Welsh rarebit is the typical and traditional breakfast item of Wales and is simply a cheese sauce that is poured over toasted bread. The cheese used in most rarebit recipes is cheddar and can be spiced with mustard cayenne pepper or paprika. The dish is similar to fondue, though the use of cheddar — as opposed to Swiss Cheese — is what sets it apart from the Continental European melted cheese dish.
Chilaquiles — Mexico
This traditional Mexican breakfast dish is hearty and flavorful; it starts with lightly fried corn tortillas, green or red chili sauce (sometimes substituted with mole) and simmered until the tortillas are soft. From there the recipes vary depending on region and taste, but the simmered tortillas and sauce are usually topped with shredded chicken, pork or beef, fried eggs, sour cream (crema), refried beans, and avocado.
Pogača — Hungary
Native to the Balkan regions and popular in many surrounding countries, Pogača is really just a type of hungarian bread that has been cooked in the ashes of a wood fire. While as a breakfast item, Pogača is usually eaten plain or with a bit of oil, there are many different recipes for this item and it can often contain cheese, potatoes or black sesame.
Aloo Paratha — Pakistan
While Aloo Paratha is very common in India and other surrounding countries, it is a typical and traditional breakfast item in Pakistan. This breakfast item is very simple and is made of unleavened dough, spices and potatoes. The paratha is then heated and served with butter or ghee (clarified butter). Another common item is Methi Paratha which is basically the same as Aloo Paratha, but has fenugreek leaves added for a slight maple syrup flavor.
Empanadas — Venezuela
While not indigenous to Venezuela, and often served in Latin countries in South America and Europe, empanadas are a staple breakfast item in Venezuela, and Venezuela tends to have the tastiest and most interesting empanada recipes. The dish is really a bread or pastry that is stuffed; what it is stuffed with can range from just cheese to meats and vegetables.
Shrimp and Grits — The Bahamas
Often though of as a Creole food dish, Shrimp and Grits was a common dish all over the United States and in the Caribbean during the early days after the discovery of the “New World;” this is largely due to the ease of transporting corn meal, and its ability to stay fresh for extende periods of time. Add this to the abundance of shrimp and crayfish in the waters along the United States, and it quickly became the staple of an American diet and was often eaten as a breakfast item all over the Americas. While much of America has long-since removed shrimp and grits from their breakfast menus, The Bahamas still keeps this dish not only on the menu, but as a staple of breakfast.
Gallo Pinto — Costa Rica
One of the most popular breakfast items in both Costa Rica and Nicaragua, Gallo Pinto means “spotted rooster,” due to the fact that the blend of different colored ingredients look like the spots on a rooster. There are many variations on the dish, but the main ingredients are usually red or black beans and rice. Sort of like a has, locally grown and available diced vegetables are added to the bean and rice base and the whole “hash” is cooked with light seasoning.
Rösti — Switzerland
Switzerland’s answer to the potato pancake or latke, Rösti is simply shredded potatoes that are formed into a pancake and cooked until brown and crisp on both sides. Traditionally, Rösti were eaten alone as a breakfast item, but today are often served with eggs and spinach or other breakfast items, and Switzerland considers Rösti a National Dish.
Cornetto Pastries — Italy
Meaning “Little Horn,” cornettos look similar to croissants, but do not call them a croissant when in Italy. Italians are quite proud of these fresh breakfast pastries and the biggest difference between French Croissants and Italian Cornetto is the fact that the Italians fill their cornetto with a variety of sauces, sweeteners and even chocolate — whereas the French usually stick to the basic croissant, only straying from the traditional recipe with the occasional bit of almond butter.
Koulouri — Greece
Sometimes call Simit, the koulouri is a type of bread that is very similar to bagels, though thinner and in a wider circle. The koulouri can trace its ancestry back to modern day Turkey where they still cook a thinner and crisper version for their breakfasts. Koulouri is very popular as a breakfast item all over Greece, but especially on the Island of Crete. For breakfast, the koulouri is eaten with a bit of honey or butter or oil, but in many areas of Greece, the koulouri is sliced and made into breakfast sandwiches, filled with anything from sliced cured meats to feta cheese.
Kaiserschmarrn — Austria
Made from a fluffy pancake that has been shredded and topped with various items, the Kaiserschmarrn is named after the Kaiser Franz Joseph I of Austria who loved his pancakes torn to shreds and topped it with fresh fruit. A very simple recipe, the Kaiserschmarrn can be topped with anything from blueberries or strawberries to almonds or other nuts.
Patongo — Thailand
Basically Thai donuts, the fried and fluffy treats are sold all over Thailand in street markets and food carts and are a favorite breakfast item of many Thai residents. Eaten plain or dipped in sauces such as honey sauce or condensed milk, Patongo are popular as a fast and easy-to-eat food, perfect for a morning meal.
Congee — China
While many porridges can be rather bland, Congee is a Chinese version of porridge made from rice and has a lot of flavor due to the toppings that the Chinese typically add to it — usually chicken, meat or fish. To make the porridge, one basically overcooks white rice until it is a mush. Rice cookers that you find in China and other Asian countries usually have a congee setting on them, ensuring that the perfect congee is ready to go first thing in the morning.
Uttapam — South India
One could call Uttapam an Indian pizza, as it is quite similar to the Italian dish. It starts with a thick pancake and is covered with a sauce and toppings. Toppings can range greatly, but the sauce is usually a thin layer of curry. popular toppings include onions, tomatoes, chilies, or cabbage. Some restaurants even use paneer (Indian cheese curd) as one of the toppings in their uttapam to make it even more like a traditional Italian pizza for travelers and tourists longing for a familiar item.
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