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Jun 21, 2007 10:21 AM

"Breakfast" around the world

As a Chinese American growing up in CA, breakfast had never consisted of waffles/toast, sausage/bacon, hash browns/home fries, and oj... instead we would scarf down homemade fried rice, top ramen, dim-sum items, bao, or etc. Since a western breakfast was so rarely served, it became one of my favorite standby meals when seeking a casual, quick, and non-wallet robbing fill up as an adult.

But now I'd like to explore what breakfast meals are like in other cultures. And are these breakfast foods ever served outside of breakfast in their respective cultures?

And do CHers have favorite memories of breakfast?

I'll start off with the statement that the majority of Chinese "breakfast" items can also be eaten as snacks throughout the day, as well as for a lunch meal.

Favorite memories:

1. Waking up on lazy Sunday mornings (around noon) to the smell of potstickers crisping in mom's kitchen & having a warm fuzzy feeling in my tummy just thinking about the hot lil bites of heaven.

2. Chowing down on longanisa (deep fried), eggs over easy, and garlic fried rice w/ my roomies in college (especially after an alcohol soaked bash).

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  1. In NY I grew up on pancakes with fake maple syrup, french toast, matzo brei (it's the same as french toast but with matzo usually eaten during Passover), leos (lox, eggs and onions), chewy NY bagels, cold cereal and oatmeal. I still like these American staples but every now and then I love something different.
    When I was in Japan I savored Japanese Breakfast: rice or rice porridge, natto (gluey soybeans- I know many hate it but mixed with rice and sesame oil it was tasty), various pickles, miso soup, various fish. YUM.
    In Paris I loved streetside crepes (my fav being simple scrambled egg). Or a croissant or pastry. The only problem is that by being used to an American breakfast I usually was starving a short while later.
    I tried Chinese breakfast in NY- I love dim sum but have not acquired a taste for soymilk soup (it tastes chalky and too sweet for me).

    3 Replies
    1. re: NicoleFriedman

      Ahhh, you need to try the salty version, not the sweet, big difference.

      1. re: NicoleFriedman

        the soymilk you tasted is typical of store bought soymilk loaded with sugar and over watered. try making your own or try homemade soymilk and you will never go back to buying soymilk - thick and rich and creamy

        1. re: liangcha

          The soymilk they are referring to is different than the one you buy in the regular supermarkets. In the Chinese markets, the soymilk is not sweetened. Plus the one in the restaurants is served almost like a soup.

      2. Rice porridge w/ a dozen or so little dishes of pickled vegetables (especially the yellow daikon), dried pork/meat/fish, salty scrambled eggs, thousand year old eggs,... The special treat would be the mornings where we got bacon, eggs and toast.

        1. Mom used to fry shredded cabbage, toss in whatever leftovers she could find in the fridge (cold meat from a roasted chicken or ham usually), and scramble a few eggs into it, and serve over rice.

          I was also big on hot soup with a lot of cold rice mixed in to make a filling gruel. Mmmmmm....gruel.

          And recently, I've started enjoying the Mexican hangover cure, menudo (beef tripe soup with hominy). Some of the local Latino restaurants serve it on Sundays and Mondays; tear a few tortillas in, squirt some lime, some raw onion and you're good to go.

          1. 1. At home growing up: miso soup, rice, pickles; or eggs, toast, grapefruit, milk; or cooked oatmeal with raisins. Following are a few others, ranging from really great to quite wretched!

            2. Vietnam: pho with a choice of yellow or white noodles
            3. Philippines: fried eggs over rice, longaniza or canned "Vienna" sausages--served at about room temperature, Nescafe
            4. Colombia: cassava bread or arepas or bunuelos plus good coffee
            5. Mexico & Guatemala: fresh tamales and atole
            6. Bolivia: great bread, hard goat's milk cheese and small cups of very strong coffee
            7. China: a six course meal, different dishes everyday (at the Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences)
            8. Bhutan: yak butter tea & Tibetan bread
            9. Southern Nepal, Northern India: yogurt, chapatis, lentils, tea
            10. Madagascar: bread and coffee
            11. Pucallpa, Peru: hearty chicken stew and rice, papaya

            7 Replies
            1. re: Sam Fujisaka

              I want "all" of the above. Oh and some good spicy beans too.

              1. re: chef chicklet

                Sam, no saltenas for breakfast in Bolivia. My favorite drug.

              2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                I have heard it said many times that the Vietnamese ate pho for breakfast. While I don't imagine that to be wrong, I can certainly say that I don't recall that being a "regular breakfast item" in my family, extended or otherwise. I do, however, recall consume quite a bit of congi, with the fluffy fried dough and pig's blood, when I was little. My mother would go to the market in the morning, and I would be allowed to wander to the nearby stalls and get a bowl of congi for breakfast.

                Unfortunately, we then moved to the US where items like bacon & eggs on a bagel seems to be the norm for breakfast - still too heavy for my taste but I'll admit to occassionally having it as I can't quite resist the allure of bacon. These days, my breakfast of choice, when I find the time, is fruit & juice, but dimsum is my ultimate idea of a good breakfast. Those Han people...no wonder they conquered so much territory.

                1. re: Ali

                  Ali, we ate early breakfasts of pho from sidewalk vendors in Vietnam. Those places would be packed. You're probaly right, however, people at home were probably eating something else.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    I once went on a weekend trip with a group that included a woman who was a Mien immigrant from Laos. She made soup for breakfast, sort of a transition between pho and congee: clear broth with rice intstead of noodles and some greens. I remember thinking how healthy and refreshing it seemed compared to bacon and eggs. I assumed that it was what she would habitually serve for breakfast, since she was a recent, non-Americanized immigrant (virtually no English, which made it impossible to explain to her why her rice wasn't cooking properly at 6,000 feet. The look of disgust and frustration on the face of a woman who has undoubtedly cooked rice at least once a day for over 20 years was priceless.).

                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                      As for my own breakfast, growing up in Northern California in the '60s and '70s, for many years it was ... homemade granola.

                2. re: Sam Fujisaka

                  Nasi goreng with an fried egg on top and a fried chicken leg seemed to be the national breakfast of Malaysia when I was there.

                3. One of my favorite breakfasts while travelling was a chapati cooked with a fried egg on top at the train station in Kuala Lumpur -- cheap, tasty, freshly cooked.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: Chowpatty

                    Or just plain chapati with chai.. I think the last time I had that, I ate 3 chapatis straight, with a little bit of sugar!!