It’s always interesting to see what people in different parts of the world consider normal or acceptable options for breakfast.
Growing up in Southern Africa, breakfast for me usually followed the standard of our colonisers, the British.
We would usually have either cereal or toast or a cooked breakfast of bacon and eggs on the weekend.
More traditional options also included maize meal porridge served with milk and sugar or syrup.
But being African and much more liberal when it comes to food choices and combinations, we could also just as easily fry up a steak or warm up the previous night’s curry for our morning meal.
Pretty much anything went, however even within this liberalism, there are still a lot of things that just seem very alien and even wrong for me in the morning.
Of course there’s no “right” or “wrong” when it comes to what you can eat at a given time of day. It all boils down to what we’re used to or what we’ve been conditioned to believing is right.
While at university in London whenever I stayed over at my Indian friend’s house, we would start the day with flatbreads and pickles.
When confronted for the first time with a Japanese breakfast of grilled fish, rice, salad, I thought “gross! Who eats fish for breakfast?” But once I tried it and became more comfortable and open-minded, it actually became one of the most delicious ways to set the day rolling.
Incidentally, while discussing breakfast options with a Japanese friend who expressed dismay at the idea of a mere bowl of cereal in the morning, I discovered that a lot of Japanese people consider cereal as dessert, and might even have a bowl of branflakes or rice crispies to round off their fish, miso soup, rice and pickled veg set.
Cut across back to Europe, and I remember my first time in Paris at age sixteen turning my nose up at the “continental breakfast”, which to me just looked like a bit of dry bread.
The French, on the other hand, might look down their noses at us philistines spreading butter and jam on our croissants in a Parisian hotel.
What about the Brazilians eating cake for breakfast? Well actually, come to think of it we do the same in many other countries. We just call them muffins, which really is just cake in a different form, isn’t it? We just trick ourselves into feeling better about the fact that we’re eating cake for breakfast by calling them muffins.
Despite having been offered noodles in Indonesia, grilled fish and smelly fermented beans (natto) in Japan and mango pickle in India, I still get surprised every now and then.
The server in a Colombian restaurant got me stumped when she told me I could not order the bowl of soup I wanted for supper as it was only served in the mornings.
I thought she was crazy as the picture on the menu of a big chunk of meat and potatoes in a steaming hot broth looked like just the thing I needed to warm me up on a cold Bogota evening, and definitely did not look right for a breakfast option.
Caldo de costilla has since become one of my favourite breakfast options when eating out in Bogota.
*Unfortunately I don’t have pictures of all the foods mentioned above and as it has been my policy to only use my own photos I have just chosen a few of my favourite breakfast snaps. I would love to hear more about what you eat for breakfast where you’re from or what you’ve had while travelling that you thought was interesting or unusual. Post your pics on instagram and tag @travelswiththegypsyqueen