• Greg Morgan

Breakfast Around the World

Have you ever wondered what other people eat for breakfast? From Australia and New Zealand to India and Nigeria, morning food habits vary significantly across the globe. While grains and coffee are pretty much universal, the consumption of meats, beans, vegetables, and spices differs widely between nations. Let's review breakfast around the world - to look at your favourite morning meal in a wider global context.

In Australia and New Zealand, toast and cereal are the most common breakfast meals, with other popular options including fruits, yogurt, pancakes, eggs, and bacon. Australians are famous for their love of vegemite, with this "love it or hate it" national delicacy highlighting the very personal nature of breakfast. Because it occurs at the start of the day and is prone to habit-forming behaviours, some examples of breakfast challenge our learned sense of taste.

As you might expect, nations with a shared cultural history are more likely to have a shared cuisine. The full English breakfast with sausages, eggs, and beans is still popular down under, but most people save it for the weekend. Continental European breakfasts are also popular, with French pastries, German cheeses, and Italian coffee all widely available. The Dutch enjoy a breakfast dish called 'hagelslag', with this buttered bread and chocolate sprinkle combo the only thing that rivals Aussie 'fairy bread' for its complete lack of nutritional value.

Breakfast tastes change as you head east, with our closest neighbours more likely to add protein and spices to their morning meal. In Myanmar, mohinga is a popular breakfast noodle soup made with catfish, banana tree stems, lemon grass, onions, garlic, and ginger. Nasi lemak is a popular breakfast meal in Malaysia, with this rice dish cooked in coconut milk and pandan leaves, and served with sambal, boiled eggs, and peanuts. Rich protein-based dishes are also popular in the Middle East, including haleem stew in Iran and a traditional tomato and egg dish called shakshuka in Israel.

In India, curries can be eaten at any time of day, although breakfast versions are more likely to focus on bread. Chana poori is a flatbread and chana masala combination, with this tasty chickpea and tomato dish often eaten on special days or during ceremonial functions. In neighbouring Pakistan, a similar 'puri' meal is enjoyed with halwa, which is made from a sweet combination of semolina, sugar, and ghee. Somewhat different to the west, many popular Asian breakfast meals are also eaten throughout the day.

Breakfast dishes in South America often have a bread or grain-based element, although they're also more likely to add meats, vegetables, and spices. Chilaquiles is a unique Mexican dish made from fried corn tortillas and salsa, topped with protein-rich garnishes, and accompanied by rice and beans. In Peru, tacacho con cecina is a simple meal made from roasted plantain fritters, with similar versions of this meal found across the continent along with sweet corn pancakes.

In Nigeria and other parts of West Africa, fried bean cakes or fritters called kosai are a much-loved breakfast favourite. In Morocco, traditional mint tea is often combined with a pancake-like dish called msemen. In fact, familiar pancake-like dishes can be found throughout the African continent, including a fermented sourdough flatbread known as 'canjeero' in Somalia, and the famous Ethiopian flatbread called 'injera'. Traditional African breakfasts are almost familiar to western palettes, with flatbreads, fritters, and beans eaten alongside universal favourites like eggs, tea, and coffee.

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