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Breakfast From Around the World: How Different Places Start the Day

6 min read

By Chris Brown

Raise your hand if you haven’t spent a lot of time and a lot of money eating internationally-inspired dishes at your favorite local hot spot. As expensive as the bill can sometimes be, eating out is probably one of the cheapest ways to experience a little bite of culture other than our own.

What people eat can tell us a heck of a lot about who they are. Exploring how different cultures around the world start their day can tell us even more. Today, we’re going to look at some of the dishes you can expect to find sitting on people’s breakfast plates all over the world.


Iranian breakfast can be as fragrant as it is flavorful. Flatbread is regularly served with feta cheese, jam, butter, and honey. A hot bowl of Haleem may sit in the center of the table. A popular breakfast dish, Haleem is a thick stew composed of wheat, minced beef, or mutton, and lots of spices cooked on low heat for up to 8-hours.

Iranians are no strangers to hot beverages either. Persian-style tea is probably the most important element of breakfast in Iran. It’s served hot, sweetened, and without milk.

United States

America has a bit of a thing for breakfast. There are entire restaurants dedicated to serving a few iconic dishes 24-hours a day, every day.

Crispy bacon, fried sausages, eggs prepared in a multitude of ways, pancakes, hash browns, and toast are the primary components. Omelets, French Toast, bagels, and fresh fruit may make an appearance as well. All of it is usually washed down with a cup of orange juice or a hot coffee.


For a food culture that revels in the world of excessive portions, a standard Italian breakfast is surprisingly muted. A lot of Italians start their day with a small breakfast or opt out of breakfast altogether, instead enjoying a quick shot of espresso or a frothy cappuccino.

Those feeling peckish will pair their coffee with some sort of sweet Italian pastry. Sfogliatelle, cornetto, or Nutella stuffed croissants are all popular and delicious options.


Canada is as well known for ice hockey and igloos as they are for their peculiar breakfast dishes. Peameal bacon, a cured pork loin that’s rolled in cornmeal, is fried, and served in a sandwich with cheese and sometimes egg.

Maple syrup is a staple too. Find it drizzled all over pancakes or waffles, next to two eggs and a few strips of bacon or sausage. Breakfast in Canada is usually paired with orange juice, coffee or tea, and sometimes a spicy Caesar.


Breakfast is called “le petit-déjeuner” in France and it’s usually a light meal. The reason it’s so light is that lunch is the most important meal of the day to the French.

A typical French breakfast centers around a hot beverage and some variation of French bread like a croissant or roll. The bread may be served with an assortment of jams, honey, or butter. Both tea and coffee are popular too. Unlike some other countries, eggs, fruit, cheese, and juice are decidedly unpopular in France.


Israeli breakfasts are growing in popularity, and you’re about to understand exactly why that is. Usually served buffet style in restaurant and hotel settings, Israeli breakfasts consist of vegetables, salads, bread, pastries, eggs, and fish, though meat is never included.

Shakshuka is a notable standout. This fragrant dish features eggs that are poached in a delicious tomato sauce and is served with warm pita bread. We’re drooling just thinking about it.

United Kingdom

Images of full British fry-ups are incredibly popular internet fodder. Often referred to as a full English breakfast, a typical breakfast in the United Kingdom includes sausage, thick-cut bacon, beans, hash browns, poached or scrambled eggs, black pudding, and toast.

Other popular UK breakfast items include sweet and savory eggy bread, Scottish porridge, and kippers. A scone or crumpet with clotted cream and jam and tea are also common.


The western world has a lot of rules pertaining to when it’s acceptable to eat certain things. Japan wisely ignores this western rigidity. In fact, a traditional Japanese breakfast looks a lot like lunch and dinner.

It’s not uncommon to see steamed rice, miso soup, green salad, grilled fish, or other proteins at breakfast. A selection of fermented foods like Japanese pickles and fermented soybeans are also common.


To the surprise of absolutely no one, sausages play a prominent role in the traditional German breakfast spread. It’s not uncommon to see fresh fruit, soft-boiled eggs, local cheeses, and salami too.

Whole wheat or rye bread is often served with jam or marmalade, and all of it is usually washed down with a hot cup of coffee or a glass of orange juice. Breakfast cereal, oat flakes, or Müsli (typically a mixture of whole-grain oat flakes, nuts, and dried fruits) are also common among the German youth.


Lebanese breakfast dishes offer salty and savory spreads made up of everything from traditional flatbreads, savory pastries, eggs, olives, cheese, tomatoes, and more. Ka’ak, a sesame-sprinkled flatbread stuffed with melting Akawi cheese, is also commonly found on the breakfast table.

The Arabic specialty sfiha, a dough-based dish that’s covered in minced lamb, spices, olive oil, and tomatoes is another breakfast specialty.


Many of the iconic Mexican breakfast dishes made their way over the border and into America a long time ago. On the whole, Mexico does breakfast big with hearty portion sizes and delicious combinations of eggs, shredded chicken, refried beans, and fried tortillas.

Huevos rancheros, chilaquiles, atole and tamales, and tetelas are just a few of the must-try breakfast staples popularized by Mexican cooks and enjoyed all over the world.


Ital cooking is well-traveled. You likely won’t have a lot of trouble finding at least one authentic jerk chicken spot in just about every major city. Some Jamaican dishes are better known than others.

For breakfast, it’s not uncommon to see ackee and saltfish steaming in the middle of the table. It’s made by sautéing salt cod, spices, peppers, and tomatoes with the native, pear-shaped ackee fruit.


It’s near impossible to break down breakfast in India in just a few paragraphs. It’s a huge country that’s rich in cultural diversity. Like a lot of the places we’ve already discussed, Indian breakfast doesn’t look much different than any other meal.

Roti, or Indian flatbread, is common. As is idlis, a fermented rice and lentil dish that’s steamed and shaped into a soft cake. These may be served with a selection of chutney and vegetable stew.


Russian cuisine is rich with delicious breakfast options. Those that prefer to start the day with something light may choose porridge or an open-faced sandwich with a slice of kielbasa and a smear of cheese. Fried eggs are a Russian breakfast staple too.

Summer or winter, Russians predominantly prefer black tea over hot coffee. Tea isn’t restrained to the morning either. It’s not uncommon for a hot cup of tea to accompany just about every meal throughout the day.


Like Japan, Korea has no time for breakfast-specific food items either. Rice, soup, meat, and a variety of sides can and are consumed regardless of what time the clock reads.

If there is one thing that differentiates breakfast from the day’s other meals it’s the portion sizes. In Korea, breakfast is usually one of the smallest meals of the day.

The Takeaway

We hope today’s trip around the globe taught you a thing or two about the wonder we call cultural diversity. That’s not to say we don’t have anything in common. We all enjoy huddling around the table with a warm beverage and a hot meal to begin our day in earnest.

We also hope that this cultural exploration highlights the absurdity of your own country’s regional rules. Let it hereby be known that eggs don’t have to stick to breakfast, rice tastes great with everything, and the time of the day should have absolutely no bearing on when you choose to satisfy your pizza craving.


Julie Ching is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator in Los Angeles. She decided to become a Dietitian after traveling through Europe, South America, and Asia and discovered a passion for food. She now works with people of all ages and varying disease states to improve their health. She is passionate about teaching people about nutrition so they can live their best life while still considering their cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds.

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