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This Is What the Rest of the World Eats for Breakfast

By Daily Passport Team
Read time: 6 minutes

You’ve heard the old adage — breakfast is the most important meal of the day. But what you eat for breakfast looks very different depending on where you live. Every culture has a unique take on the day’s first meal — and as an American, you may find some of these dishes surprising. But whether you like your eggs scrambled or fried, or prefer your coffee black or with milk, there’s a morning menu out there that suits your taste buds. Grab a plate and discover popular breakfast foods in 10 countries around the globe. 

Morocco

Bright blue buildings in Chefchaouen, Morocco
Credit: Elena-studio/ iStock via Getty Images 

In Morocco, breakfast isn’t complete without some sort of pancake on the table, especially baghrir — a special pancake made from semolina flour and yeast. Also known as a “thousand-hole pancake” or “thousand-hole crêpe,” the baghrir is famous for the tiny craters that appear on its surface as soon as the batter is poured into the pan. These holes form due to the active yeast in the batter, and if they don’t appear, it means the baghrir is too thick. A properly cooked baghrir is spongy and tender and served with honey, butter, and jam. Similar to people in the West, many Moroccans eat an early breakfast, although food isn’t consumed until after morning prayer.

India

Person on small boat overlooking densely packed buildings on hillside in Varanasi, India
Credit: Roop_Dey/ iStock via Getty Images 

Breakfast dishes may vary in different regions of India, but roti (also known as chapati) is a staple throughout the country. The wheat flour flatbread is rolled at home, pressed into a circular shape, pan-fried in ghee (clarified butter), and served with dips and chutneys. Other dishes commonly present on the breakfast table are dosas (lentil-and-rice crêpes), idlis (steamed rice-dough pancakes), and spiced potatoes. Since many people in India are accustomed to rising early for work, breakfast is typically served between the early hours of 7 a.m. and 8 a.m.

China

Traditional temple and modern skyscrapers, seen from across river in  Guiyang, China
Credit: gyn9037/ Shutterstock

China’s version of chicken noodle soup is congee or conjee, a savory rice porridge that is regularly consumed for breakfast. Combined with water and aromatics such as green onions and lotus root, the rice is boiled until it changes into a pudding-like consistency and then topped with pork, seafood, or youtiao (fried dough). Although it resembles a sort of gruel, congee is delicious and considered to be the ultimate comfort food in China. Since it’s easy to make and incredibly filling, it’s also a perfect way to start the day, which means many people in China will enjoy a warm bowl of congee as early as 6 a.m., before the workday starts.

Egypt

Talaat Harb Square in Cairo, Egypt
Credit: WitthayaP/ Shutterstock 

For their morning meal, Egyptians regularly consume ful medames, or simply fūl, a richly flavored mixture of stewed fava beans and spices. To make fūl (pronounced “fool”), dried fava beans are soaked overnight and then cooked for several hours with various aromatics such as garlic, onions, parsley, lemon juice, and chili peppers, before being finished with a dash of cumin and a drizzle of olive oil. Since the ubiquitous breakfast food requires hours of preparation and cooking time, most markets also sell canned varieties of ful medames. Fūl is typically served with pita bread, eggs, and cheese and enjoyed at all times of the day, but especially in the morning before school or work.

Peru

Church and city square lined with palm trees in Lima, Peru
Credit: FrankvandenBergh/ E+ via Getty Images 

In Peru, animal blood is a common breakfast ingredient, due to the fact that blood is purported to be good for your health since it protects against anemia. One popular option is a sandwich called pan con chicharrón, featuring blood sausage, fried sweet potato, and salsa criolla (a mixture of chopped onions, lemon, and cilantro), sandwiched between two halves of a fresh bun. Another favored breakfast item is sangrecita (seasoned chicken blood), in which chicken blood is boiled and then fried with onions and salt. Most Peruvians eat breakfast before leaving for work or school, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.

Venezuela

Stone church in mountains of Venezuela
Credit: Moises Abraham/ Shutterstock

In Venezuela, arepas are consumed in many households in the mid-to-late morning, around 10 or 11 a.m. Composed of corn flatbread stuffed with a variety of savory items — cheese, fish, chicken, shredded beef, or black beans — arepas are beloved by most Venezuelans. In fact, they’re such a common snack in Venezuela, they’re consumed throughout the day, not just for the morning meal. And since breakfast isn’t as essential as the midday meal, many Venezuelans eat lightly in the morning in order to save room for lunch, which is the largest meal of the day. As corn is a good source of fiber and highly prevalent in South America, arepas are also popular in Colombia and Ecuador.

Japan

Hilly residential street overlooking Kanagawa, Japan
Credit: Taro Hama @ e-kamakura/ Moment via Getty Images 

In Japan, breakfast foods are traditionally savory, featuring dishes we would often associate with lunch or dinner. Cooked fish, rice, and pickled vegetables are all foods typically found on the breakfast table, alongside miso soup. Made of dashi (Japanese stock), miso (fermented bean paste), vegetables, and tofu, miso soup is a simple dish that can be quickly cooked on a stove. The warm soup is so nourishing that it’s often considered to be an ideal way to start the day. Since people in Japan rise early, the average breakfast time is 7:10 a.m. on weekdays, before people leave for work or school.

Mongolia

Cityscape of Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia
Credit: Tuul & Bruno Morandi/ The Image Bank via Getty Images

In Mongolia, the word for breakfast ​​literally translates to “morning tea,” so tea is the most important item on the breakfast table. Suutei tsai (milk tea) is the morning standard, made daily in yurts across the country. The salty green tea is a combination of tea and cereal, made with green tea, milk, and millet. It’s not uncommon to add leftover meat to the milk tea in order to transform the straightforward dish into a hearty meal with some protein. Often served with urum (clotted cream made from yak milk), suutei tsai is usually consumed early in the day, between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m.

Jamaica

View of beach resort and dense foliage from across bay in Jamaica
Credit: Ramunas Bruzas/ Shutterstock 

Ackee and saltfish is not only a typical Jamaican breakfast but also the national dish of the country. Ackee is a savory fruit with thick, red skin, brought to Jamaica from West Africa in the 18th century, while saltfish (salted cod) was a cheap food, since the white fish was preserved in salt for longer storage. Although these ingredients have different flavor profiles, they blend well to make a salty, nutty, savory dish that is found throughout Jamaica. Ackee and saltfish are often served with fried plantains or “johnnycakes” — Jamaica’s version of fried dumplings — and consumed as early as 5 or 6 a.m.

The Netherlands

Canal lined with boats and row homes in Amsterdam, the Netherlands
Credit: Alexander Spatari/ Moment via Getty Images 

If you’re wondering why the Netherlands is one of the happiest countries on Earth, it may have something to do with breakfast. Hagelslag — buttered bread topped with sprinkles — is so popular for breakfast that the Dutch reportedly consume millions of sprinkles annually. The country’s chocolate sprinkles are made with real cacao, while other flavors include anise (licorice) and fruit. Although this cheerful breakfast dish can be eaten as early as 6 a.m., hagelslag is so ubiquitous in the Netherlands that it’s also considered to be an acceptable snack throughout the day.

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