Our ideal breakfast in this country consists of scrambled eggs, crispy bacon, toast, and coffee with milk. At least that’s according to research collected by the international data and analytics firm YouGov for a survey called “How do Americans like their breakfast foods?”
Of course, that’s not what all of us eat every morning. Some of us don’t eat breakfast at all, though we’ve been told repeatedly that it’s the most important meal of the day. For others, breakfast means a healthy serving of oatmeal or yogurt, perhaps with fresh fruit added.
Or we go the other direction, and have a couple of doughnuts or a sweet roll — or one of those fat-and-calorie bombs that is the fast-food breakfast sandwich. (If you’re going to have one of these, it makes sense to at least have a good one. These are the best breakfast sandwiches in every state.
Bagels are another popular breakfast choice, whether toasted or not, plain or flavored, with cream cheese or butter. And then there’s the contingent that just likes to sit down with a bowl of their favorite breakfast cereal drenched in milk. (Was your favorite one of the breakfast cereals you can’t buy anymore?)
The point is that many different kinds of food can constitute breakfast in America. And that’s just here. Around the world, people start the day — break their overnight fast — with an amazing variety of foods. Just as in America, it’s impossible to say that this item or that is the only thing people eat for breakfast in a certain country. Season, region, economics, and personal taste all play a role. The list that follows, then, reveals a typical breakfast in each country but hardly the only common breakfast food.
In looking at some of the more unusual (to us) breakfast choices people make around the world, several things become clear: Much of what’s eaten is savory, not sweet, and spice is a frequent component. Legumes like fava beans and black-eyed peas in various forms are popular. Soups and porridges are commonplace. Fish shows up often — not just the lox we might eat with our bagels or the kippers (smoked herring) popular in the U.K., but catfish, tuna, even anchovies. Eggs are often added to the main dish or served alongside, and tea or coffee are constants.
Just as the world’s cultures are spectacularly varied, so are the world’s cuisines — starting with the first meal of the day.