I find astonishing that, apparently, I have failed to write a post about my obsession with breakfast and, more specifically, breakfast traditions around the world. If I have written about it, I cannot find it, though I did find a brief mention of it here. Whether I’ve written about it before or not, I will write about it now.
A few years ago, I stumbled upon the breakfast link on Quora, referenced above. The original poster asked the question: “What do people eat for breakfast outside the U.S.?” That caught my attention, because in my travels in years past I’ve been fascinated with breakfasts that differed so dramatically from what I was used to eating in the U.S.
I recall breakfasts in Germany and Sweden that included fresh and pickled fish and a huge selection of fresh cheeses and cold meats. I remember breakfast in Beijing that included congee alongside an incredible assortment of garnishes such as dried herbs, spices, nuts, and diced vegetables. The foods offered on dim-sum carts in Chinese dim-sum restaurants are incredibly good, if sometimes incredibly odd to the western palate.
In Australia, I had plain spaghetti noodles over dry toast. A traditional English breakfast I had more than once while traveling in England included eggs, baked tomatoes, a rasher of bacon, and an assortment of dense, soft sausages. In Portugal, I had a breakfast of diced ham, peas, and eggs. The breakfast I had after staying one night at a hotel at Narita Airport in Tokyo included miso soup, grilled fish, a piece of fish cake, nori (seaweed), and pickled veggies.
I enjoy making my own international breakfasts, too. However, I cannot say with certainty whether they are traditional in the countries that inspire them. I’ve made potato dosas, served with a bowl of sambar, a breakfast I gather is reasonably common in parts of India. Because Indian food is so near and dear to me, I have made plenty of other Indian-inspired breakfasts, adapting chana dal recipes into fillings for dosas, among other adaptations.
I’ve had a huge variety of Mexican breakfasts, including: pan dulce with coffee; juevos rancheros; machacada con juevos; juevos con huitlacoche; and on and on. Recently, we had a wonderful Mexican breakfast, consisting of Mexican chorizo and eggs with avocados and cheeses, prepared by friends.
When my wife is willing to allow unknown tastes and untold calories to enter into the breakfast experience, I experiment with breakfast. During one of my periodic fascinations with sardines, I learned about a recipe for gits and sardines (actually, I had to do this alone, as the idea did not appeal to her). According to what I’ve read, it has its origins along the east coast and in the Bahamas. A similar dish, one I’ve never tried but want to (shrimp grits) is said to have been born of hungry fishermen who made the stuff on their boats.
My fascination with breakfast has led me to conclude I would absolutely LOVE opening a breakfast-only restaurant that would serve breakfasts from around the world. Each day, there might be six or seven breakfast options. For example, on Monday we might serve Peruvian, French, Bahamian, Swedish, Japanese, and Ethiopian breakfasts. On Tuesday, it might be Iranian, Chilean, Balinese, Indian, Mongolian, and German. And so on. Because breakfasts in so many places are so varied (e.g., India, China), those places could be represented hundreds and hundreds of times in the course of a year and never repeated.
The only problems with such an idea: money and market. I can’t afford to do this and, even if I could, the demand probably couldn’t keep both tables full! But, still, I’d like to try breakfasts I’ve not eaten. Anyone with me?