15 Countries, 4 Continents, One Meal – Breakfast from Around the World

By Jen Chan

In a country filled with fast-food egg sandwiches and on-the-go yogurt strips, Americans often opt for a simple and fast breakfast. But maybe it is time to give this commonplace meal a cultural twist.

Last weekend, 15 volunteers from various countries took photographs of their breakfast and completed a short survey. Immediately, cultural differences popped up.  While a young American kicked off her day with a slice of toast, a college student in Viet Nam picked up a steaming bowl of beef noodle soup from a street vendor.  For many people, breakfast had a bit of fruit on the side, but a common Korean breakfast  consists solely of various “side dishes” (salads, fish, and rice). Across the globe, “healthy” and “convenient” foods were the top choices for participants.

This is what “Breakfast” looks like around the world:

AUSTRIA – Breakfast Sandwich (baguette with cold cut cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions)
Submitted by Alina Ghoddousi

Austria

Breakfast in Austria typically varies depending on the day. On weekdays, a quick foods, such as sandwiches, are common. However Sunday breakfast may consist of a variety of Austrian breads, cold cuts (various kinds of meat in thin slices), eggs, and jam.

BRAZIL – Misto Quente
Submitted by Homari Aoki

Brazil 1

A toasted sandwich with yellow mozzarella cheese and ham on pão francês (french bread). A normal breakfast in Brazil consists of toasted bread with butter and coffee. As the largest producer of coffee in the world, typically Brazilians will often drink  the incredibly sweet Café com leite  in the morning (Coffee with Milk).

CHINA – Pumpkin Soup, Vegetables, Dumplings
Submitted by Junqi Peng

China

A Chinese breakfast consists of vegetables (typically carrots, cauliflower, and lettuce), steamed buns, dumplings, a mixed-grain porridge, or rice noodle rolls. Milk or soy milk are also eaten with breakfast. Food in China greatly depends on the region. For instance, salted rice porridge with deep fried dough is the most common breakfast food in south east China.

CANADA – Salmon Gravlax with Dill Sauce, Potato Latkes, Eggs, and Apple Salad
Submitted by Lucia Li

Canada

In Montreal Canada, brunch is a popular meal. There are various cafes and restaurants which serve gourmet meals such as this. Gravalax, pickled salmon, is a classic Scandanavian dish; therefore, its presence in Canada reveals European influence within Montreal

FRANCE – Grapefruit, Black Tea, Baguette with Honey, Croissant, and Pain Au Chocolat[1].
Submitted by Robin Chen

France

Bread and pastries are an essential part of the French diet. At the end of 2013, the Confédération Nationale de la Boulangerie-Pâtisserie Française (French Trade Association for bakery-pastry operators) reported that there are 32,000 pastery shops in France alone . This is a typical Sunday breakfast in France.

INDONESIA –  Rice Dish with Meatballs, Shrimp, and Scrambled Eggs[2]
Submitted by Michelle Harryman

Indonesia

Indonesians are one of the highest consumers of rice in the world. In 2012, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Vietnam combined accounted for 20% of total global rice consumption. Therefore, it is common for rice dishes to appear in breakfast.

ITALY –  Bacon, Egg, Avocado, and Water with Lemon
Submitted by Jeny Sun

italy

Pancetta, Italian Bacon, is pork belly curled into a tight roll and cured with salt and pepper. In contrast, American bacon is usually smoked.

KOREA –  Various Side Dishes 
Submitted by YuJung Lee

Korea 1

A typical Korean breakfast consists of various small dishes. The picture above shows rice, seaweed soup, stirfried seaweed stem, kimchi (pickled cabbage), mukmuchim (seasoned korean jelly), dried laver, grilled gulbi (dried yellow croaker fish). Rice is an essential part of every Korean meal.

NETHERLANDS –  Malatang
Submitted by Thomas Pak and Pamika Wantanaphan

This Shanghai street food found its way into a Holland kitchen through the Chinese community. Although this dish is typically eaten for lunch or dinner, it became an afternoon breakfast for a young couple. The soup is made with a numbing spicy paste.

This Shanghai street food found its way into a Holland kitchen through the Chinese community. Although this dish is typically eaten for lunch or dinner, it became an afternoon breakfast for a young couple. The soup is made with a numbing spicy paste.

PORTUGAL – Galão and a Pastel de Nata.
Submitted by Mário Sexias

Portugal

Pictured above is coffee with milk and a traditional Portuguese sweet pastry. Pastel de Nata features creamy custard within a flaky outer pastry. This typical Portuguese breakfast can also be found in Hong Kong and China through Macau’s influence.

SLOVAKIA – Semolina Porridge
Submitted by Ivona Szantová

Slovakia 2

Semolina is form of course, cracked wheat flour which can be used to prepare a variety of foods, but in Slovakia, it is cooked with milk to form breakfast porridge. Honey, banana, cinnamon, and dark chocolate can also be added for a sweet and quick breakfast. Young students often eat this dish.

SPAIN – Orange juice, Kiwi, Two apricots, Toast, and cold/hot Chocolate
Submitted by Robbe Armbruster

spain

In Spain, it is common to eat a light breakfast. While this picture features sweet spreads, it is also common for Spanish people to eat bread with olive oil and tomatoes for breakfast.

TAIWAN – Taiwanese Omelette
Submitted by Lawrence Niu

Taiwan

Commonly served in breakfast restaurants, a Taiwanese omelette is a salty crepe gently folded with egg that is mixed with spring onions. Bacon and cheese may also be inside. Finally, chili sauce is added on the side for a quick and delicious meal.

USA- Eggs Over Easy on Toast [3]
Submitted by Ashley Lusk

USA

This dish consists of toasted, thinly sliced bread and well cooked eggs. While the United States is stereotyped with greasy foods, studies show that younger Americans are opting for healthier and lighter choices. The Wall Street Journal reports that working-age Americans are eating approximately 118 fewer calories per day than in 2009.

VIET NAM- Phở Bò
Submitted by Kevin Dinh

viet nam

On a slightly chilly morning (26°C/81°F) it is common for Vietnamese people to eat a soup dish with herbs, rice noodles, beef meatballs (bò viên) and steak. Fresh bean sprouts, basil, lime, peppers, and dipping sauces are placed on top. Although Vietnamese restaurants around the world serve this as a dinner or lunch dish, within the country itself it is commonly found in the morning.

Sources:

Aoki, H. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

Armbuster, R. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

Chen, R. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

Dinh, K. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

Ghouddousi, A. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

Harryman, M. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

Lee, Y. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

Li, L. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

Lusk, A. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

Niu, L. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

Pak, T. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

Peng, J. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

Sexias, M. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

Sun, J. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

Szantova, I. (2015, May 25). Email interview.

[1] “Bakery in France.” Bakery in France. EuroMonitor International, Nov. 2014. Web. 26 May 2015.

[2] Wailes, Eric J., and Eddie C. Chavez. “World Rice Outlook: International Rice Baseline with deterministic and Stochastic Projections, 2012-2021.” (n.d.): n. pag. University of Minnesota, Mar. 2012. Web. 26 May 2015

[3] Beck, Melinda, and Amy Schatz. “Americans’ Eating Habits Take a Healthier Turn, Study Finds.” WSJ. Wall Street Journal, 16 Jan. 2014. Web. 26 May 2015.

Got a topic? Email Editor Jen Chan at jchan@chomplab.net

The Sushi Invasion

By Jen Chan

Like Yoga pants and Rap music, a dish consisting of raw fish resting on top of a tiny ball of vinegar-infused rice is invading pop culture. Sushi, a Japanese ethnic specialty stemming from the ninth century, has recently exploded in popularity across the globe. In Vienna, sushi is dished out in casual food stalls on every corner of the city. Meanwhile, in Paraguay, the sophisticated Sushi Club Restaurant features fried California rolls as a menu item.  Undoubtedly, sushi fever has also taken hold in the United States, but how? And to what extent?

Bite Sized Beginnings

50 years ago, picking up a random slab of raw fish meat, pointing at it, and telling Americans to eat it would have been met with shrieks of horror. While describing Japanese cooking in  1929, the Ladies Home Journal, attempted to delicately dance around the subject of raw fish with a tiny disclaimer:  “There have been purposefully omitted… any recipes using the delicate and raw tuna fish which is sliced wafer thin and served iced with attractive garnishes. [these]… might not sound so entirely delicious as they are in reality.” [1]Post WWII, magazines such as Holiday and Sunset  finally mentioned sushi, but also avoided the subject of unappetizing raw ingredients. Their Americanized substitute recipe consisted of cooked shrimps on top of rye bread [1]. Truly authentic sushi didn’t arrive on the American shores until 1966.

Kawafuku Restaurant, America’s first sushi bar

When Norito Kanai opened America’s first sushi bar, Kawafuku Restaurant, in Los Angeles, he expected to attract Japanese businessmen and expats[2]. Instead, he started a wave of Japanese food fandom across the nation.  Within the next ten years, sushi bars were stationed in Hollywood and Washington DC. Creative American innovations, such as sushi rolls with rice on the outside and cooked crab, allowed hesitant beginners to jump on the sushi bandwagon[3]. The number of sushi restaurants in the United States quadrupled between 1988 and 1998[4] as chefs creatively churned out “Rainbow Rolls and California Maki”. Rising demand for healthy alternatives to red meat in conjunction with Japan’s increasing economic power created a golden opportunity for the food to flourish.

The Current State of Sushi: On A Roll

Americans changed from awkwardly ignoring truly authentic sushi to bombarding it with a level of affection that is almost baffling. Boasting a range of fanfare from pillows to memes, sushi is slicing through America with a cult-like following.  As Theodore Bestor states in his Washington Post article, “From an exotic, almost unpalatable ethnic specialty, then to haute cuisine of the most rarified sort, sushi has become not just cool, but popular[1]”.  Zagat verified his claim in their 2012 “Top Rated Restaurants Across America” report.  Remarkably, out of the Top 20 rated restaurants, four were Japanese sushi restaurants [5] .  Even rappers and pop stars are tying sushi into their lyrics.

Clearly, Americans are also putting their money where their mouth is. Currently, the sushi restaurant industry alone is generating billions of dollars annually. To be exact, American sushi bars reeled in $2.1 billion in revenue during 2014 alone[6].  According one of the world’s largest industry research sources, IBIS World, there are approximately 4,200 Japanese restaurants available in the USA and total profit is $150.5 million[6] .  These numbers are predicted to rise in the near future, with projected growth of 2.3% annually for the next five years[6] . This is a remarkable feat for a cuisine that was virtually unheard of half a century ago.

The Wrap Up

Sushi radically transitioned from a specialty food into a mainstream cultural icon of the 21st century.  Through cleverly adapting the dish to fit local tastes, an entirely new eating concept has rolled through the US.  Now, the FDA is frantically trying to stop Americans from gnawing on random slabs of raw salmon due to potential parasite problems[7],  but that is another story.

‘Till next time, as the rapper Junior M.A.F.I.A says in “Gettin’ Money,” “I be eatin’ sushi.”

Sources:

[1] Bestor, Theodore C. “How Sushi Went Global.” Washingtonpost.Newsweek Interactive. LLC Foreign Policy.121 (2000): 54-63. JSTOR [JSTOR]. Web. 19 May 2015.

[2] Avey, Tori. “Discover the History of Sushi.” PBS. PBS, 05 Sept. 2012. Web. 19 May 2015.

[3] Carman, Tim. “Sushi Standards and the American Way.” Washington Post. The Washington Post, 24 Jan. 2012. Web. 19 May 2015.

[4] Feng, Cindy Hsin-I. “The Tale of Sushi: History and Regulations.”Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety 11.2 (2012): n. pag. Web. 19 May 2015.

[5] “20 Top-Rated Restaurants Across America.” 20 Top-Rated Restaurants Across America. Zagat, 3 Dec. 2013. Web. 20 May 2015.

[6] Brennan, Andy. “On a Roll: A Rebounding Economy Will Help the Industry Recover from Recessionary Lows.” IBISWorld. N.p., Dec. 2014. Web. 19 May 2015.

[7] Matsumoto, Marc. “The Myth of Sushi-Grade.” PBS. PBS, 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 20 May 2015.

Got a topic? Email Editor Jen Chan at jchan@chomplab.net