We know it’s the most important meal of the day but what do people in Singapore eat for breakfast, or in Nigeria, France or Russia? And what IS a full English meant to include? We asked foodie experts from around the world…
Prepare to salivate. These tales of breakfasts from around the world provide a fascinating insight into the culinary history of the countries, as well as a tantalising description of the various elements that make up a traditional breakfast…
Singapore – by Lee Li Ming, author and blogger
A traditional breakfast for most Singaporeans would be the Kaya Toast. The Kaya Toast is a Hainanese creation. In the colonial past, many Hainanese people worked on British ships as cooks. As the cooks settled in Singapore, they began selling western food they prepared for the British locals, such as toast and coffee. They added a local twist to the food by replacing expensive western jam with a cheaper local alternative – butter and kaya, a sweetened coconut milk and panda leaf spread.
The Kaya Toast now is usually paired with a half-boiled egg and coffee. Kaya toast brings back fond memories for me as I grew up eating Kaya toast and eggs for breakfast at traditional coffee shops. The best way to eat this is to dip the Kaya toast in the eggs, the mixture of runny egg with sweet kaya taste works really well.
England – by Johanna Derry, journalist
I remember having a conversation with someone from India who had eaten a full English every morning on a trip to the UK. He didn’t know how on earth we could consume such massive quantities every morning of the week and would not believe me when I said, in general, most people don’t. That doesn’t mean we don’t have high standards when it comes to the Traditional English Breakfast.
It’s pretty much a national dish, close to the hearts of all, and therefore, everyone has a view on how it’s done ‘properly’. Its core elements are always sausage, bacon, fried egg, fried mushrooms, toast. Some add baked beans, creating a tomatoey eggy quagmire in the middle of your plate – you might gather I’m not a fan.
In the north of England you’ll get black pudding or white pudding, as well as your sausage, something southerners might consider an unnecessary adulteration. My mum always makes fried bread to go with hers, and Americanophiles might expect hash browns, though they have no rightful place on an English breakfast plate. For such a simple dish there are multiple variations, and, of course, every bed and breakfast in the land claims that they make the best.
Here’s how I like mine: a piece of Cumberland sausage for its chunkiness and bite, a couple of rashers of bacon done so that the edges and fat are crisp but not so much that you find yourself chewing for hours before you can swallow, and one large Portobello mushroom – not too greasy. I’ll settle for other variations on this, but the egg has to be just right – fried sunny side up, but slowly, so that there’s no trace of a crispy bottom. With a cheeky slice of Lancashire black pudding and my mum’s fried bread to top it off, my Indian friend is absolutely right – I’d not need to eat again. At least until teatime.
A simple French breakfast
France – Meg Bortin, food blogger
France may be known for its culinary prowess, but breakfast is typically a simple affair: coffee, juice and buttered bread or a pastry. Croissants are popular, as is the brioche, a rich roll that looks like a muffin with a cap on top. Children often prefer pain au chocolat, a flaky roll surrounding dark chocolate. Coffee can be espresso or café au lait, strong coffee mixed with warm milk. Sometimes yogurt is added to the equation. Having lived in Paris for more than 40 years, I enjoy a typical French breakfast every day. Bon appétit!
A ceremonial Nigerian breakfast
Nigeria – Tokunbo Koiki, chef
Breakfast, like other meal times in Nigeria, often has a ceremonial feel to it. One of the most popular dishes eaten is boiled yam and egg, fried in a tomato-based sauce or with just onions and fresh tomatoes. Other popular options are ogi (pap) and akara (black eye beans fritters). Agege bread – named for the area where it originated – with margarine is sold in the streets by bread hawkers; making it a quick and easily accessible meal for Nigerians going to school and work.
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Russia – Aliona Ermakova, Stay Hungry Moscow
From childhood, I remember the Russian proverb “Eat breakfast by yourself, share lunch with a friend and give dinner to an enemy.” But at the same time, I remember that nobody really paid attention to it and spent much time cooking or eating breakfast.
Growing up, breakfast dishes for me were porridge, sandwiches with cheese and sausage, omelettes. Although eggs were not so popular as in USSR they were said to be bad for cholesterol – but I think it was because there was a deficit. Porridge was popular, especially oatmeal which had great soviet PR as the healthiest start to the day.
Of course there were some Russian specialties. The most popular one even nowadays is sirniki. Sirniki is made of dough with cottage cheese fried in a pan and served with sour cream and a home-made jam. Another speciality is blini: russian-style pancakes; the thinner the better. Every family has their own recipe and there’s always a big debate about whether true blini should contain this or that important ingredient or not. Also, there are lots of stuffing types like blini with cottage cheese, with apples, with meat and of course with caviar – for holidays and for tourists.
The traditional morning drink is tea though the coffee culture is growing – but it’s only in recent years that we have had decent cappuccino in cafes. Nowadays breakfast is trending: it is the most instagramable part of the day and the most popular food is poached eggs in different variations. Every cafe serves one; every girl needs a picture of it teamed with a beautiful cappuccino cup on her Instagram feed.
What do you eat for breakfast? Do you stick to the traditional food from your country, or mix it up? Let us know below…