Have you ever realized how few foods we eat as Americans for breakfast? Beyond breakfast meats, eggs, bread and sweets, there aren’t a lot of options. These also aren’t really the best food we can eat from a health perspective. Bacon and eggs is one of my favorite dishes, so it’s taken me a long time to even reach this point, but earlier this year I finally broke. With the less busy mornings due to no commute we’ve been cooking a lot more breakfast. After a few months, when bacon, eggs or oats no longer fit the bill, I looked for new answers.
A lot of the rest of the world doesn’t seem to have the breakfast foods taboos we do, so I thought looking at what other culture’s eat would be a good place to start. Below are some of my experiences/learnings.
The best breakfast I ever had
Last year, I went to Singapore for the first time with some co-workers and my fiance. The city is amazing for several reasons, though it felt too modern, created, and mostly HOT to consider living there long term. The most exceptional part of that city is the food scene.
NYC before this point had been my top food city of the world – Not that it has the best food, but that all foods exist in that city. One time when trying to figure out whether to eat Italian or Japanese food in NYC with a friend, we discovered an Italian/Japanese fusion restaurant was attached to our hotel. Singapore blows NYC out of the water in this regard.
Over the trip, I had jellyfish, legitimate Mexican food and American BBQ, the best India food, Chili Crab. There is even a Church’s Chicken there – Honestly, they have it all.
The city is covered with Hawkers, indoor or outdoor food halls with several stands selling different food and drinks. Most locals will frequent hawkers but rarely go to proper restaurants.
With unlimited choices, we ended up back at the same Hawker in the same stall 3 times for the same meal. The stall owner saw me wandering around and offered to make us some roti prata, flat bread stuffed with onions, tomatoes, spices and a side of incredible curry. Even in the sweltering heat requiring a post-breakfast shower each time, I have craved this monthly since I had it. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a replacement here in the US where I live.
Rice is really THE goto food for breakfast we don’t consider eating as westerners. If you ever have cold, day old rice in the fridge and wake up hungry in the morning, I highly encourage you to make some quick fried rice with it. Bonus points if you have some frozen veggies in the fridge to throw in with it. There are lots of great recipes out there, but at it’s simplest, just fry up the rice in some hot (not olive) oil and add some Soy sauce to it. Super easy to make, lots of variability, and it’s easy to eat and very filling.
Shoshuka I have not yet mastered, but the thing to take away here is the versatility of tomato sauce. I was used to eating fried tomatoes, or diced tomatoes for breakfast in other dishes, but tomato sauce was something reserved mostly for pasta. Shoshuka itself is a bit time consuming and is delicious and something I recommend trying out, but when I make it I typically keep some of the sauce, without eggs, for later. You can add this to basically anything for a quick easy breakfast.
The last tip I’ll give is beans. I think the first time I had beans for breakfast was in Holland at some hotel breakfast buffet. Initially, I was turned off. I don’t think of beans as being a breakfast food. While I won’t say it’s the most delicious thing you could eat for breakfast, a nice white bean lemon mash on some toast takes just a couple minutes to throw together and can keep you full of energy well into lunch time. I’m still not a fan of the baked beans UK life, but I may resist that as I run out of variety through breakfast.