RTW Travel: Breakfast Around the World
This weekend, I suddenly realised we’ve created our own tradition for Saturday breakfast. In the early hours every Saturday, Liam takes Sweet Baby to Victoria Market, where he buys a selection of meats and veggies for the upcoming week, along with a simplified version of Turkish breakfast we’ll eat later that morning: spinach and feta gozleme, lentil soup, fresh bread, and sometimes an almond croissant (admittedly not Turkish, but nonetheless delicious).
Of course, if we were eating a traditional Turkish breakfast, this would only be the start of things! A real Turkish breakfast might also include menemen (an egg paprika dish), several types of goat cheese, kaymek (buffalo clotted cream), yogurt, a variety of fruits and veggies, fresh, sticky honey that slowly drips from its waxy comb, and several different types of olives.
All these ruminations about morning repasts have led me to think about the different breakfasts I’ve experienced around the world. So here is Part I of a collection of different breakfasts I’ve eaten around the world.
Did I just imply breakfast in Turkey is the best? Looking at these photos from one of our breakfasts in Spain, and I’m no longer sure that’s true. Here we have churros and porras with cups of thick, rich hot chocolate. That’s basically starting our day with fried bread dipped in chocolate thicker than pudding.
This breakfast was eaten in the far northeastern part of India, on top of one of the smaller mountains rising above Lake Khecheopalri in Sikkim. The real draw to the drafty little guesthouse we stayed in was that the owner (and cook) there is former chef to the Dalai Lama. His food was simple, but delicious — as you would expect, given his credentials.
Most of the time we were in Scotland, we skipped breakfast. After all, we were pretty much just living in a cheap rental car and sleeping in the countryside alongside cotton-ball sheep and fuzzy highland cows. We had no pretensions as far as food was concerned, and often ate a random assortment of items acquired at grocery stores, or greasy papers of fish and chips purchased in seaside towns. However, there were a few times when we dined out just to get a sample of the Scottish cuisine, and almost every time we did, I ordered some of the local salmon. Here it is, with a simple mix of scrambled eggs and a toasted bun.
BURMESE BREAKFAST (MYANMAR BREAKFAST)
I think there’s some sort of rule in Myanmar wherein every guesthouse is required to serve free breakfast to their occupants. Unfortunately, these breakfasts seem to offer food that is bland and boring as possible: hard boiled eggs and limp toast is the standard. Bleck, right? However, if you’re willing to wander down the street and part with $1, you can get a creamy, coconutty, delicious bowl of Mohinga (fish noodle soup), sometimes topped with eggplant. Trust anywhere you see lots of local people eating. They know what’s good.
Norwegians don’t have a big tradition of eating out, which is undoubtedly why, outside of Oslo, towns there boast very few restaurants. Since Liam and I lived in Kristiansand for several months (and there were only a couple of overpriced restaurants in town), we always ate our breakfast at home. This brown cow cheese — Flotemysost — has a vaguely caramel flavour, and was what we ate for breakfast, along with toast. It is the same type of simple breakfast many Norwegians also enjoy.
When someone asks me how Mongolian food tastes, I pause and then say “interesting.” This is when I’m in a polite mood. When I’m feeling more blunt, I’ll yell out, “Awful! Awful! Bring a jar of peanut butter if you visit.”
That being said, there were a few dishes I enjoyed. This one was a breakfast of milk tea and a plate of what tasted like slightly rancid butter that had the texture akin to an omelette. I’m not sure what it was called. I ate it with a spoon. Which I may or may not have been meant to do. Now I see a pile of bread in this photo and wonder if I should have been spreading the rancid butter stuff on it. Ah, the mysteries that occur when you homestay with a family that doesn’t speak English.
One of my all time favourite restaurants has to be Hashem in Amman, Jordan. Our guesthouse was less than a 5 minute walk away, which meant we ate here at least once a day. The food was so great that even if we’d stayed across town from Hashem, I have the feeling we still would have eaten here at least once a day. The hummus, falafel, foul mudammas, and cups of black tea (into which we crammed fresh mint leaves, following the example of the other diners there) are dishes commonly found throughout Jordan, and eaten for breakfast, but nowhere does those dishes better than Hashem’s. Perfection. It was always, always crowded with Jordanian men who livened up the place with the sounds of their friendly banter and the light click-clacking of beads.
While we were in France, most of our meals were comprised of delectable items we’d carefully select from patisseries and fromageries. We’d then trot off with our food to any nearby park, and make a picnic of our meal. Some of our friends living in France were slightly horrified when we told them our Bohemian eating habits, and they invited us to a proper French meal in the countryside. That meal was amazing, and I think back on it with much fondness. But honestly, I also really enjoyed our picnics and the food we ate then. Photos below are from the breakfast we took our first day in Paris. Quiche loraine and lemon meringue are probably not what your average French person eats for breakfast, but ohhhh, they were yummy. I eat my breakfast with no regrets.
The woman running this little food stall in one of the back corners of the Angkor Wat temple complex seemed to only have tuk tuk drivers, souvenir vendors, and other locals as her customers. However, when Liam and I sat down on the plastic chairs by her table, she just as happily dished us out bowls of her kuy teav soup, rich with veggies and a hearty meat stock, and a pot of piping hot tea. Such deliciousness cost us less than $1 each.
On our first morning in Athens, we quickly bought and then consumed a round of Greek pastries still warm from the oven. I had spanakopita, a flaky filo pastry pocketed with feta cheese and butter, as light and tasty as it looks. The focus on breakfast that morning was convenience (although it also happened to be mouthwatering good), as right after eating, we rushed to the Acropolis in order to be the first visitors of the morning.
NEW ZEALAND BREAKFAST
Cities in New Zealand, much like Australia, are famous for their delicious brunch offerings. One of the classic meals, to which Liam introduced me, is poached eggs with hollandaise sauce, salmon, and spinach on toasted bread. It was love at first bite, and (variations of) this meal is still the breakfast I invariably order whenever it’s a choice on the menu.
The most difficult places I’ve ever traveled solo include Borneo, Mongolia, and . . . rural China. Even eating out — which generally falls under one of the easiest tasks to do because everyone in the world eats, right? how hard can it be to find food? — was something of a daunting task. On this morning in Kaili, I did the classic point and smile routine to indicate what I wanted to eat. (Sorry, fellow diners! I know that probably seemed rude.) Vegetable wontons and eggs fried together and served up still sizzling in their pan was one of the most delicious morning meals I’ve ever, ever had. The hearty serving was too much for one person to eat, but I nonetheless ate every bite of it and felt quite happy about the experience. Unlike several days later, where I desperately was trying to order food, any food, that was not dog. Because, yes, in Guizhou (the region of China where Kaili and a number of other towns are located), dog is a regional specialty.
~This series of breakfast photos has been brought to you
by the colours Yellow and Orange.~