With Shrove Tuesday (fondly known in many countries as “Pancake Day”) fast approaching, I started thinking about breakfast around the world. Whether you like the sound of the following dishes or not, you can’t deny that each of them is completely unique. I hope you’ll find some recipe inspiration from these popular meals, or perhaps you’ll feel inspired to travel to the featured countries to try the dishes on their home turf!
1 | The UK
First up: my favorite breakfast in the world (but I’m probably biased)! A Full English typically consists of bacon, sausages, eggs (usually fried, but you can have them scrambled or poached if you prefer), hash browns, toast, mushrooms, baked beans, and fried tomatoes. Black pudding — a type of blood sausage — should also be featured, but is pretty hard to find in your standard restaurant or café. If you’re looking for something lighter, Brits also love tea cakes. These sweet buns contain dried fruit (usually raisins or currents) and are served toasted, warm, and dripping with butter.
2 | China
As with many larger countries, Chinese breakfasts vary depending on the region. Wherever you go, however, you’ll find some kind of rice or noodle dish, cooked a in vegetable broth, as well as porridge and some form of relatively plain cake. Steamed buns and dumplings are also very popular. These can be stuffed with meat, soup, or left unfilled. In fact, the flavor options are endless, which is probably what makes this dish so widely loved. Classic ingredients include pork, eggplant, egg, vegetables, bean paste, custard, or sugar, and it’s not uncommon to mix and match.
3 | Egypt
With aspects of the Middle Eastern, African, and Mediterranean cuisine, Egyptian food is extremely varied and even more delicious. Ful Medames is a particularly popular breakfast dish. It’s made from a mix of fava beans, chickpeas, garlic, and lemon. It’s topped with olive oil, chili powder, and a creamy tahini sauce, andly served with a hardboiled egg and mixed green vegetables. Fuul is also often eaten first thing in the morning. This is best described as a heartier version of hummus, made from mashed fava beans, and served in a freshly baked pita bread.
Find out more about Lower Egypt here.
4 | USA
If you’re looking for something ultra-heavy to start your day, the US is the place to be! Just like in the UK, items like fried eggs, toast, sausages, and bacon are typically eaten for the most important meal of the day. Those of you with a sweeter tooth, however, should try a huge American stack of pancakes, topped with syrup, chocolate spread, honey, peanut butter, or whatever else you fancy! There’s also a fair bit of regional variation, with doughy beignets featuring heavily in New Orleans, and chicken and waffles appearing frequently in the southern states.
5 | India
Dosa — a thin, crunchy pancake with a spicy filling — is popular in most areas of India; however, that’s where the similarities between regions end. In southern India, breakfast typically consists of a spicy vegetable stew, served with lentils and rice bread. Those in the North usually eat a heavier breakfast, such as aloo paratha, which consists of a dough stuffed with mashed potato and a variety of spices. It’s typically served with butter, chutney, or pickles.
Find out more about northern India here.
6 | Turkey
A classic Turkish breakfast — known locally as Kahvalti — consists of cheese such as feta, olives, freshly baked bread, honey, butter, jams, and lots of Turkish tea. Borek, meanwhile, is a great breakfast snack if you’re on the go. Enjoy the light layers of pastry, filled with heavier potato and strong cheese.
Family breakfasts often feature some form of eggs, such as omelets filled with tomatoes, peppers, and cheese, or menemen, a spicy version of scrambled eggs. Typical Turkish breakfast meats, meanwhile, include sucuk, spicy salami, and pastirma, a cured beef covered in spices.
Find out more about Central Anatolia here.
7 | Mexico
You may have already tried the classic Mexican breakfast food, huevos rancheros, as it’s taken off at trendy brunch establishments around the world. This dish consists of fried eggs, served on tortillas, and topped with a spicy tomato sauce. Tortillas also feature in chilaquiles, in which they’re smothered in cheese, cream, and sliced onions.
If you fancy something a little lighter, why not pick up some tamales? This doughy snack is eaten throughout the day, and is stuffed with different fillings, including meat or vegetables. Alternatively, you could just enjoy some pan dulce (sweet bread) with a hot drink, such as atole, which is thickened with corn, rice, or oats.
Find out more about the Mexican Yucatan Peninsula here.
8 | Iran
Bread is at the center of most Iranian breakfasts. From noon-e sangak, a wheat flatbread, to noon-e barbari, a long, chewy bread, there’s a product for every taste. If you’re looking for something a little heavier, why not try an Iranian classic, like kaleh pacheh, a stew made from various parts of a sheep, onions, and garlic. Alternatively, indulge in some halim, a thick meat porridge (typically lamb, chicken, or turkey) boiled and mashed up, topped with butter, cinnamon, and sugar.
9 | Canada
The Canadian breakfast is largely similar to that in the US and UK: there’s lots of eggs, sausage, bacon, and bread. Just like its neighbor, the US, pancakes and waffles are also popular and for good reason! Canada is the world’s largest producer of maple syrup in the world, so be sure to smother your pancake stack in lots of this local delicacy! Canada also tries to rival its neighbor when it comes to another breakfast favorite: bagels. Montreal bagels claim to be some of the best in the world and are much sweeter than their American counterparts, owing to the fact they’re often infused with honey.
10 | France
What might seem clichéd is not: baguettes are everywhere in France. Unlike in many other countries, locals would never buy their bread from a supermarket, but from their local bakery. They cover their baguettes in butter and some kind of jam (usually strawberry, but other variations, including orange, fig, and rhubarb are also popular). Croissants, pain au chocolat (a chocolate croissant), and other pastries are also a much-loved breakfast treat. These are, once again, purchased from a local bakery, where you’ll also find pain aux raisin (a raisin pastry) and brioche (a sweet bun).
Find out more about Paris here.
11 | Vietnam
Meal times are a real communal occasion in Vietnam. In larger cities, such as Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll often see families and friends sitting on street corners enjoying their breakfast together. They usually eat pho, a kind of rice noodle soup cooked in meat stock, or banh mi, a Vietnamese baguette. These sandwiches are typically filled with a variety of vegetables, in addition to sea food, and/or meat. If you’re looking for a hearty way to start your day, be sure to try congee, rice porridge cooked in chicken stock. You can add what you like to the mixture, but typical ingredients include duck or fish.