Breakfast customs around the world offer a rich tapestry of flavours and traditions waiting to be explored

Have you ever wondered about the breakfasts served in the countries you visit? While travellers often plan their culinary adventures around lunch and dinner, breakfast can be a delightful surprise, offering a unique glimpse into a nation’s culture and tastes.

The morning meal is a global affair, and what you eat can vary dramatically based on where you are. So, what should you know about breakfast traditions around the world? Let’s take a gastronomic journey across continents, exploring the diverse and intriguing breakfast customs that can make your mornings a memorable experience.

The classic full English breakfast

breakfast traditions
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Let’s start with a breakfast staple known worldwide: the “full English breakfast.” This hearty morning feast typically includes a combination of juice, cereal, eggs, tomatoes, beans, sausages, toast, and marmalade. While it’s most famously associated with the United Kingdom, you’ll find similar versions in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, and even across the pond in the United States and Canada. In Scotland, adventurous diners might encounter additions like haggis or kippers to enhance the flavour.

The continental breakfast

In the world of hotel dining, the term “Continental Breakfast” is a familiar one. It typically features croissants, rolls or bread, butter, jam, marmalade, and coffee or tea. Sometimes, you’ll also find juice, cereal, and yogurt on the spread. However, cooked dishes are not the norm in this style of breakfast. The term “Continental” originates from the belief that most “continental Europeans” prefer this type of morning meal.

Breakfast across Europe

Your breakfast experience in Europe can vary greatly depending on your location:

  • Southern Europe: Breakfasts are typically lighter, following the Continental style. In countries like Italy and Spain, you might encounter olives, cucumbers, fresh tomatoes, and feta cheese alongside the standard fare.
  • Northern Europe: In the northern countries of Europe, breakfasts tend to be heartier, featuring salamis, cold cuts of meat, cheese, yogurt, prepared fruits, and boiled eggs. The specific items on your plate can vary from country to country and even from one hotel to another.
  • Scandinavia: In Scandinavia, open-faced sandwiches known as “smørrebrød” are a breakfast favourite. These sandwiches are often topped with fish, such as herring, offering a unique and flavourful morning option.
  • Germany and Poland: Sausages are a common addition to the breakfast table in these countries, accompanying cold cuts and cheeses. In Munich, Germany, don’t miss the opportunity to try the Weisswurst (white sausage), while in Poland, kielbasa is a breakfast staple.
  • Spain: Spaniards prefer starting their day with coffee or hot chocolate paired with churros, which are donut-like fritters perfect for dipping.

Breakfast beyond Europe

As we venture outside of Europe, breakfast traditions become even more diverse:

  • Latin America: In Latin America, you’ll find more tortillas than bread on the breakfast table. Consider trying fried plantains and black beans for a delicious and satisfying morning meal.
  • Middle East: Breakfast in the Middle East often consists of flatbreads like pita or naan served with hummus, yogurt, olive oil, and za’atar, a flavourful spice blend.
  • Southeast Asia: Much of Southeast Asia offers noodle soups with Asian vegetables, sometimes accompanied by spring rolls. In China, particularly around Beijing, hot soups like congee and steamed pork buns (bao zi) are common breakfast choices. In Indonesia, don’t be surprised to find chili and garlic fried rice with leftover curries as morning options.
  • Japan: Traditional Japanese breakfasts include rice, seafood, pickled vegetables, and natto, a pungent fermented soybean condiment. It’s a unique and flavourful way to start the day.

Breakfast customs around the world offer a rich tapestry of flavours and traditions waiting to be explored. Whether you’re an experienced traveller seeking new culinary adventures or simply curious about global breakfast habits, understanding the variety of morning meals can add a delightful dimension to your cultural experiences.

So, the next time you’re on a journey, don’t overlook the first meal of the day – it may just become a highlight of your trip.

| The Frugal Traveller

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