They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but have you ever thought about why that might be the case? Aside from being the meal that sets the tone for the day, the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford University‘s studies suggest that breakfast can help with cognitive performance and stabilize our hormones throughout the day, preventing sharp peaks and drops in our energy levels.
Enjoying breakfast is practically universal, but what breakfast is, exactly, varies across cultures. Where we may eat sweet cereals, fruity pancakes and savory eggs and bacon in the United States, other cultures around the globe enjoy very different traditions. Take a breakfast tour around the world with these ten meals. Perhaps you’ll be inspired to start your day by trying something new!
England | Full English breakfast
You won’t walk away hungry after an English breakfast — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / bhofack2
The full English breakfast contains items that you’ll likely find on a menu at any American diner — just served all at once. Known as a “fry-up” or “a full Monty,” a full English breakfast features all manner of fried items, including eggs, bacon and sausages (or “bangers”, on that side of the pond).
Depending on where you are in the United Kingdom, a full English breakfast may also include baked beans and such grilled vegetables as mushrooms, tomatoes and fried onions. It may even come with tea, toast and potato cakes or scones.
Turkey | Turkish breakfast
Fresh Mediterranean ingredients come together to make a Turkish breakfast — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / Natalia Van Doninck
The traditional Turkish breakfast is a gigantic offering of small plates, encouraging eaters to sample a variety of delicious bites, from a range of sharp and subtle cheeses to savory pastries filled with meats.
You’ll find a little bit from every food group as part of a Turkish breakfast, and many of these small plates feature dishes similar to what you’d find throughout the Middle East and the Mediterranean: salads of tomato and cucumber, olives, and breads with jams, butter and honey.
Turkish tea is a must, and meals typically end with a Turkish coffee. The word for “breakfast” in Turkish does, after all, translate to “before coffee”.
Australia | Vegemite on toast
Vegemite might as well be the official food of Australia — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / bhofack2
Breakfast in Australia can take on many forms, but no dish is more iconic than Vegemite on toast. Vegemite is made from leftover brewers’ yeast. The thick, dark brown spread is best enjoyed on bread that is fresh out of the toaster and still hot, ensuring that at least some of the the Vegemite can melt into those nooks and crannies. Sticky and smooth like peanut butter, Vegemite has a savory, malty flavor.
Asia | Congee
This easily digestible dish makes a great breakfast, and it’s also often served to those who are ill — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / Juthamaso
Congee is a rice porridge enjoyed in a variety of different ways throughout Asia and even as far away as Portugal, where the tradition of “canja” was influenced by the Portuguese colony in Goa, India.
This porridge can be served with variety of salty meats. In China, for instance, you’ll find congee with salted duck eggs or crab, while green lentils or chutney are popular accompaniments in India. Incorporating varied textures like crispy shallots can add to congee’s complexity.
Germany | Frühstück
When set on the table, a German breakfast is truly a bounty — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / juefraphoto
The centerpiece of the German Frühstück (meaning breakfast) is brötchen, or bread rolls. Served alongside the rolls are a selection of meats, cheese, spreads like marmalades, Nutella and honey, and a Frühstücksei – an invariably soft-boiled egg. You might also find muesli: a mixture of oats and granola that’s enjoyed like a hearty cereal with milk or yogurt.
Israel | Shakshuka
Start your day off with a little heat — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / JMichl
Though it can be enjoyed as any meal of the day, shakshuka makes an appearance on many breakfast tables throughout not just Israel but the Middle East as a whole. This dish features an egg poached in a spiced tomato stew with bell peppers, onion and garlic. It’s seasoned with a variety of spices, including cumin, coriander, paprika and chili powder, all of which contribute to the dish’s heat.
Japan | Gohan and miso shiru
The mild flavors of gohan and miso shiru make for a calming breakfast — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / kuppa_rock
The foundation of a Japanese breakfast is gohan (steamed rice) and miso shiru, a soup made from fermented soybean paste. From there, dried horse mackerel or any other variety of fish, pickled vegetables and seasoned seaweed can be added.
Egypt | Foul mudammas
Foul mudammas is easy to make, vegan and quite healthy — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / Andrei Kravtsov
Dried fava beans are stewed and mixed with vegetables and spices for this humble, vegan breakfast. Served hot, foul mudammas is traditionally eaten with pieces of pita.
Colombia | Changua
It only takes a few ingredients to make a hearty breakfast egg soup — Photo courtesy of Getty Images / anamejia18
So many cultures incorporate egg into their breakfast meals, and that very much remains the case around the central Andes. Eggs are poached in a broth of water, milk, green onions, and cilantro or parsley. Traditionally, the soup is served with an arepa that absorbs and is softened by the broth.
Ghana | Waakye
Waakye is a great meal to experience some of Ghana’s indigenous ingredients. Rice is cooked with black eyed peas and either red millet leaves or sorghum leaves, which give the waakye its distinctive hue. Often served with salads, meat and fish, waakye can be enjoyed at home or bought from street stalls and restaurants.