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Eggs for breakfast?

Any idea where this weird custom comes from?
Pilgrims, Brits, Celts, other?

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    1. re: nofunlatte

      It started during the Victorian era and became part of a traditional English breakfast.

      1. re: nofunlatte

        From a global perspective it is fairly unusual. As Sean points out it started as an English custom and came to North America (and other former British colonies like Australia) from there. Asians don't eat eggs for breakfast, nor do most Europeans, except for the occasional hard-or soft-boiled one in the shell, mainly in northern countries. Even the French, famous for their omelettes, do not consider them a breakfast dish.

        1. re: BobB

          It is far from occasional in Europe.
          Northern European (Norway/Sweeden/Denmark/Germany/Iceland are all I can actually attest to from personal experience) serve eggs at almost every breakfast. I spent my summers visiting relatives there, and I can't remember a breakfast without eggs. Usually soft boiled or poached.

          I have been told by a friend who grew up in Spain that it is very common there, but can't speak for myself. sout Africa, Botswana, Zimbabwe all serve eggs (although you have the british colony thing going on there as well.

          1. re: BobB

            I didn't grow up in Asia, but in my Asian American household, tea eggs are perfectly normal as breakfast food.

            1. re: BobB

              Well, I've lived in Germany (southern part--Black Forest) and eggs most certainly were a standard breakfast item.

              1. re: BobB

                Japanese are known to occasionally top their rice with raw egg for breakfast (hot rice "cooks" the egg a bit) and may also have a slice of tamago-yaki (a sort of rolled-up scrambled egg with soy and sugar flavoring).

                1. re: Sushiqueen36

                  We beat up an egg and some shoyu, pour it over HOT gohan and mix. But not generally for breakfast because we don't cook fresh gohan for breakfast.

                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                    I figured you would weigh in and set me straight! :-)

                    1. re: Sushiqueen36

                      Because I went to UO for grad school and am going to retire to the Wallowas?

                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                        Well, the fact that you're a Duck just explains your brilliance but I have noticed that you know a fair amount about rice in general based on other posts on threads that I happen to read. Not that I'm stalking you or anything. Plus with a name like Sam, you've just got to know a thing or two about gohan and shoyu.

                        1. re: Sushiqueen36

                          queen, you sure do know how to make someone laugh!

            2. Alright.... I had a doubt so I quickly reviewed my culinary references... Eggs of course are synonmous with Almuerzo (mid morning meal) in Mexico... is this recent or more ancient? I confirmed Huevos Ahogados (Turkey or Duck eggs poached in sauces or broths) were common in 16th Century Mesoamerica.

              Were they eaten in the morning, afternoon etc? Because of Mexico's warm climate... the eggs were frequently collected early in the morning to prevent the development of Embryos. In the native Mexican diets... the most important breakfast proteins came from water (fish, shrimp, crawfish etc.,)... on bad fishing days... eggs were prepared as a consolation prize.

              Coincidentally... eggs become more common in Spanish cookbooks in the late 16th Century / Early 17th Century (presumably spreading to the Brittish Isles some time afterward?)

              2 Replies
              1. re: Eat_Nopal

                Are you saying eggs for breakfast is NOT an invento gringo???

                1. re: RicRios

                  I am not saying anything without knowing more about the culinary history of the UK or Northern Europe... what I do know is that some form of eggs for breakfast existed in Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica.... obviously before the Victorian times.

                  The Chinese invented about half of what is known as Western Civilization... so I would be shocked if there aren't hundreds of breakfast egg dishes (particularly considering the Chicken originated there).... that were part of their ancient traditions. Even if you can believe that the Han ethnicity never invented that.... one of the 50+ minority groups must have no?

              2. Eggs are quick to cook and store well (unopened) unrefrigerated...makes sense for a breakfast food (unlike, say, braised veal or roast chicken)

                1. Yes, but other cultures use eggs in the weirdest ways - in a Thai curry! on pasta! etc!

                  1. Don't birds lay eggs at night? Making the eating of eggs in the morning the most practical time for eating them? Pretty sure about that. It ain't rocket science.

                    The Leghorns we had back on the farm always laid at night, I thought.

                    7 Replies
                    1. re: uptown jimmy

                      Eat Nopal touched on this too, and yeah, it makes perfect sense: you go out in the morning and gather the eggs from the henhouse, then you go inside and cook them.

                      1. re: uptown jimmy

                        I don't think time of day is specific for egg laying. At a poultry barn exhibit at last year's Duchess County fair one of the exhibitors was walking about the cages and retrieving eggs having been freshly laid only a moment before.

                        1. re: feelinpeckish

                          Maybe it is a farm habit - collect eggs in the morning. We always collected eggs in the morning, too, every morning. If you don't take it away, she won't lay another one.

                          1. re: sarah galvin

                            Yeah. It's just a classic British and American thing. And you gotta take them every morning or the hens will sit on them, thinking the eggs will hatch, and won't lay any m ore, right? You go to the hen house every morning and collect the eggs, and then promptly eat them for breakfast. Any eggs left over were made into some sorta pie or somesuch, custard pies of whatever flavor being common amongst folks lucky enough to have plenty of eggs.

                            Eggs are lovely. The perfect food, so incredibly versatile and endessly enjoyable. And so easy to grow...just keep the chickens from gettin et up by foxes and coons and such, throw em a bit of cornmeal every day...

                        2. re: uptown jimmy

                          As a looong time hen-keeper I've learned that most hens lay their eggs from mid-morning until early afternoon. When I sold impeccably fresh eggs I gathered them around 3:00 PM and immediately refrigerated them. There never were any eggs in the nests in the morning. Once in a while a very young inexperienced hen would plop out an egg when she was roosting at night. These I considered inedible as they sat in fowl poop all night. The dogs loved them. Gathering eggs first thing in the morning means they were laid the day before. Leaving them in the nest all night exposes them to potential theft by rodents.

                          My Russian grandfather escaped Russia through China and it was in peasant China that he learned to eat what he called "congee" in the morning, a rice gruel made from leftover rice with, if you were lucky, an egg stirred into it. Congee with an egg (and bits of leftovers from the night before) is still one of my favorite ways to start the day.

                          1. re: fromagina

                            Cool.

                            I gotta get me some laying hens...

                            1. re: uptown jimmy

                              Hey.. ain't nuthin' like FRESH eggs! Most un-gated communities tolerate a few quiet hens (no roosters). A yard and a secure pen is required.. if you live in an apartment, maybe you can raise a few egg-quail?

                        3. at first I sort of thought "gringo?!?" but maybe there is something there. IMExp: Spain, huevos revueltos, Germany and UK, soft-boiled. France and Italy in all sorts of things at all times of day (well Spain too, for that matter).

                          are you referring to traditional Mexican/Central/South American food? (and that's a really big swath of territory and geographic influences to generalize about).

                          as for the US, I think it was a fetish-y thing in the early 20th c. as newly urbanized city dwellers couldn't usu. raise chickens, yet had grown up with them. and despite today's food costs, they were VERY expensive then (and highly rationed in WWII - that much more desirable)

                          1. Wow, a lot of egg defenders out here! I have nothing against them, I was just reporting on my own fairly extensive experiences in Europe. I lived in Germany for a while, where we had them occasionally (and always in the shell, never fried - and don't get me started on how my roommates almost evicted me for stinking up the house by frying bacon one morning!), and later got involved in a business that made me a trans-Atlantic frequent flyer for the past 15 years. Maybe it's just the places I stayed or the people I stayed with, but the typical breakfast I've encountered is the local bread (brotchen, croissant, whatever) with butter, cheese, jam, and coffee - they don't call it "continental breakfast" for nothing!

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: BobB

                              I've had similar experiences in Europe - breakfast is usually coffee and some kind of bread (or, in Italy, some kind of storebought cookie). Eggs usually showed up later in the day. Of course, the late weekend (read: hangover) breakfast/brunch, when it happens, throws out all the rules...

                              1. re: piccola

                                Back home (in Holland) we used to only eat eggs (soft boiled) for breakfast on Sundays. Other days it would just be bread or cereal.
                                It's very common to eat eggs for lunch as 'Uitsmijter' which is 2 or 3 eggs sunny side up with ham on 3 slices of bread. or a Farmers Omelet, with potatoes and lots of veggies.
                                Or we would eat it as an accompaniment with dinner in place of Meat, my childhood fave: Mashed potatoes, Creamed Spinach with a plain omelet.... yum....

                            2. Quick frustuck(darn umlauts) story:

                              ...my first trip to Germany many years ago(I'd taken several years of German in middle school and high school...not that it made me fluent---reading and writing, yes...conversing, no...and, in any case this trip was a decade past that era of my schooling). We were based out of Mainz and the poor s/o's toes hurt him something awful what with all the walking around we'd gotten up to...I elected to grab breakfast downstairs of the hotel and bring him back something to nibble on. I chose a "hardboiled" in shell egg. No wonder the waitress gave me such an odd look when I ordered a second and placed it in my coat pocket. I made it back upstairs only to find the...duh...softboiled egg!...had cracked in my pocket and all I had to offer the s/o was
                              an anecdote, albumen and egg shell.

                              7 Replies
                              1. re: aelph

                                Ümlaut tip: you can enter most accented characters (and standard English ones too) using only the ALT key and the number pad on your keyboard. Make sure NUM LOCK is on, then hold down the ALT key and enter the ASCII code for the character you want (google ASCII character sets for a list). For example: The ü you're looking for is ALT+0252, é is ALT+0233, ç is ATL+0231, etc. Make sure you use the number on the number pad on the side, not the numbers above the letters.

                                Works in almost all programs running in Windows, but I'm not sure about Macs.

                                Moderators - I know this looks off-topic but it could help people enter foreign food names more accurately, so in that sense it could be considered food-related. ;-)

                                1. re: BobB

                                  Thank you for the tips! I'm an Apple user, but will experiment.

                                  1. re: aelph

                                    If you're on a mac, you should be able to hit the alt key +u for umlauts, then the letter of your choice to receive said umlauts.

                                    Also, your could simply add an 'e' to follow the letter requiring an umlaut as that is what it means, nicht wahr?

                                    1. re: Lizard

                                      thanks for the tips...have to disagree that an umlaut phonetically or denotatively reduces to adding an 'e' to another vowel...

                                      ...with some cursory online research it appears that printing a Germanic umlaut as Oe, Ue(etc.) is a convention of keyboards...

                                      the Germanic vowel w/ umlaut does not, in my experience, reflect the sound denoted by adding 'e'

                                      I wanted to add, getting back to the topic at hand, that the cliche' American farm family breakfasts also see an apotheosis in many of the similar in my area of the Midwest; the families I'm closest to -eschew eggs- in the morning, tucking into tables laden with sausage gravy/biscuits, ham/bacon, pancakes and cinnamon rolls, instead.

                                      1. re: aelph

                                        Ah, yes, I see how I could imply that. Possibly because I only learned German in a period dominated by the computer keyboard :)

                                        1. re: aelph

                                          Can't go into a long linguistic history of the umlaut here, but for the sake of spelling foods without doing the umlaut (ö=oe/ä=ae/ü=ue) you should know that this isn't restricted to typing. German crosswords work this way.
                                          Spätzle=Spaetzle ....mmm...makes me hungrig....

                                          1. re: suse

                                            very interesting, thank you :)

                                2. Jungle fowl and their eggs go back to pre-history. What's weird depends on the culture. Liver and pickled cabbage seems weird to me.

                                  1. Sun's about to rise. Time to fix some tagliatelle alla' carbonara.

                                    1. I know it's not really an answer,but I thought it was very interesting to read about all the different breakfasts all over the world!! My family is so typical Dutch, haha!

                                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Breakfast

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: chefschickie

                                        I'm not sure if anyone still does it, but I understan from my reading that eggs beaten into beer was the standard breakfast in much of Northern Europe during the Middle Ages/Rennasaince

                                          1. re: jumpingmonk

                                            Beaten egg stirred into wine is also acceptable for breakfast IMO.