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Culture Guide

18 breakfasts from around the world

03 July 2023


Find out what the most important meal of the day looks like around the world

Where you’re from in the world has a lot to do with what you’re likely to enjoy for breakfast. Buttery croissants for one might look more like lightly dusted pyramidal doughnuts for another. The legendary full English has a few rivals around the world – including Japan. And a lot of nations enjoy rice recipes to get them moving first thing.

So, fasten your seatbelts and join us on a whistle-stop tour around the world’s kitchen table, and discover some new tastes to impress your next overnight guests.

1. Austria

Waking up in Vienna means you’d most likely find yourself faced with a variety of breads, to be filled with sweet or savoury fillings, depending on your taste. Think jams and spreads, as well as ham and cheese. All washed down with a melange – espresso topped with steamed milk.

2. Bulgaria

Breakfast in Bulgaria is banitsa, a swirled filo pastry combining eggs and cheese, enjoyed hot or cold. It’s often served with a plain yoghurt, or it can be washed down with ayran, a savoury, yoghurt drink. Yum!

3. China

Given China’s vast size, breakfast differs across the country. The first meal of the day can consist of various smaller dishes to make up a full meal, featuring the likes of steamed buns (baozi and mantou), dumplings, savoury porridge (congee), deep-fried churro-esque savoury sticks (youtiao), or sesame balls pumped full with a bean paste called jiandui.

4. Colombia

Breakfast in Colombia is quite different, with a popular option being changua – a thin soup, made from potatoes, milk and water. A raw egg is often cracked on top, which poaches itself in the hot broth. And to add an extra element of taste, the Colombians often add some coriander and chopped spring onions.

5. Costa Rica

If you’re in Costa Rica you might be served up a spotted rooster for breakfast. But don’t let the name fool you… gallo pinto doesn’t contain any chicken and is so-called for its speckled appearance. The dish is made up of rice, chopped veggies, salsa and beans, and can be served with eggs for breakfast.

6. Eastern Africa

Those pyramidal doughnuts we mentioned at the beginning of this article – mandazi – are enjoyed in a variety of African nations, including Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana. They’re made with coconut milk, eggs and flour, and flavoured with cardamom and cinnamon.

7. Finland

The Finnish enjoy tucking into a bowl of an oaty porridge called purro for breakfast, which translates to grain porridge. Or a popular variation is vispipuuro – whipped porridge – made with boiled fruit juice, or fresh blueberries or cranberries.

8. France

The French croissant (pronounced kwa-san, and not cross-ont – we’re looking at you, America) is renowned the world over, and a staple breakfast item across Europe. The buttery, flaky pastry can be served sweet or savoury, or all by itself. A bakery-fresh croissant is most often enjoyed with a fruit juice or a café au lait – pressed coffee with steamed milk.

9. India

Breakfast time across India differs quite a lot depending on where you are, but curry certainly isn’t reserved for the evenings. If you’re in the north, you might want to try chana poori – a curry made up of masala, tomato and chickpeas, served with deep-fried flatbreads. Or if you’re further south, keep an eye out for a flat, steamed rice cake called idli – they go perfectly with a steaming cup of chai tea. And if you’re in the West, you might be looking at a wonderfully fluffy rice dish called kande pohe, roasted with chillies, onions, cumin, and curry leaves.

poha - Indian rice breakfast

10. Israel

Mealtime in Israel is as much about being together, as it is the food being served. This dates back to the kibbutz farming movement, which would see everyone gather at certain points of the day, so they could all eat together. A popular Israeli breakfast is shakshuka – poached eggs floating on a bed of rich tomato sauce, onions, chillies, cumin and paprika.

11. Japan

 Westerners sitting down for a Full Japanese might notice things are done a little differently here. You’re a long way from eggs and bacon. The typical Japanese breakfast resembles more of a big lunch, featuring steamed rice, soup, fish, and piping hot green tea.

12. Malaysia

Malaysia’s national dish can’t be confined to one specific meal. Regardless of the hour, it’s nasi lemak time. The dish is comprised of white sticky rice, boiled eggs, a spicy relish called sambal, and cucumber and peanuts.

13. Morocco

When you’re in Morocco, you can tuck into this breakfast flatbread favourite at most times of the day. M’semen isn’t too dissimilar to the Indian paratha, comprised of multiple layers. It’s often served with honey or conserve spreads, and should always be washed down with a delicious cup of mint tea.

14. Singapore

Imagine waking up in Singapore. You peel back the curtains of your hotel room to reveal an epic view over the stunning Marina Bay. The bright morning sun is bouncing off the flat water between boats, and it’s time for breakfast. Your first meal of the day might be kaya – a coconutty milk, sugar and egg mix, served on toast and accompanied by a steaming cup of coffee.

15. Thailand

 In Thailand, rice is always on the menu – regardless of the time of day. Khao tom is a thin porridge with boiled jasmine rice and egg and can be served with a variety of things. It’s quite popular with shrimp, (which would make it khao tom goong), but all kinds of protein work wonderfully.

16. United Kingdom

The mighty full English is renowned all over the world. It generally consists of egg (fried, scrambled or poached), bacon, baked beans, pan-fried mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, and buttered toast. And if you’re in bonny Scotland, you’re much more likely to find some delicious black pudding on your plate, too. All washed down with tea, coffee or fresh fruit juice. 

17. Venezuela

Cachapa is literally a corn pancake, cooked with sugars and butter. They’re then folded in half to make a sort of sandwich, and stuffed with a queso de mano – fresh cheese. It can be served savoury or sweet, and its popularity has extended into neighbouring Colombia.

18. Vietnam

Over in Vietnam, xoi is rather popular for breakfast. The main ingredient is sticky rice, but it’s covered and flavoured with a variety of things, including green beans, peanuts, egg, a thick paste or meat.  



If that lot hasn’t got your tastebuds tingling, we don’t know what will. The big question is… which cuisine are you going to be bringing into your kitchen first?