Alternative Breakfasts from Around the World

Photo By Miia Ranta.

Good morning! Or, should I say in Finnish, “hyvää huomenta”? Morning, and subsequently breakfast, are my favorite times of the day.

Given enough time to indulge in the ritual that is breakfast, I will have had three cups of coffee, and wasted upwards of two hours watching DVR episodes of House Hunters or Gilmore Girls before I knew it. There’s nothing better than getting that precious amount of time, no matter how small, to fuel up and prepare for the day.  When I travel, my favorite moments are usually during breakfast as well—a gossip session with recently reunited friends over tea and muesli can end up taking four hours, if you do it right!

So go ahead, wrap yourself up in your favorite fluffy bathrobe and pour yourself a cup of coffee, because believe it or not, at any point in time, someone in the world is eating breakfast. And as you will see, the definition of breakfast changes with almost every country. Some see it as a sweet start to the day, whereas some prefer something more savory. Some breakfasts are large, involved dishes that fill you up for hours, and some are so small and unassuming

that eating while standing up is not only acceptable, it’s encouraged!

My first breakfast in Finland was a slow, coffee-filled event. The Finns are known for their coffee consumption, as well as their insistence on having “just one more!” cup before you go. The eating itself was substantial, and a little more savory than what I was used to. To start off, we assembled open-faced sandwiches of crisp bread, which were topped with cold cuts, cheese, and slices of cucumber. On the table sat a small plate with slices of hard boiled egg, a carton of plain yoghurt, and a small bowl of redcurrants. Almost every succeeding breakfast was exactly like this one, except for the later inclusion of my favorite breakfast dish, the Karelian pasty, traditionally from the Karelia region of Finland. It  had a potato filling (although many others are filled with rice), and was surrounded by a thin rye crust, pleated around the edges. We spread munavoi, a mixture of butter and hard-boiled egg, on top of the hot pie, and dug in.

Italian Breakfast
Photo By Nouhailler


By contrast, Italy treats breakfast in the simplest and sweetest of ways. Breakfast (colazione, in Italian) might even consist of a caffè e latte and little else! Additionally, it is often eaten out at one of many coffee bars, where cappuccino and paste can be conveniently eaten while standing at the bar counter. My Italian breakfast experience involved at-home events, and began with a wonderful pot of coffee made with the moka. Ever heard of breakfast cookies? They’re the Italian specialty, and my favorite part about breakfast! We had several bags of Mulino Bianco brand cookies (Pan di Stelle were my favorites) on the table, next to a jar of Nutella, ready to be eaten with a gusto!


German Breakfast
Photo By nayrb7

My friend from Berlin was fascinated by the relatively savory Finnish breakfast, as breakfast in Germany, like Italy, involves food a little on the sweeter side. Since the huge variety of breads (brötchen, or bread rolls) serve as the main vehicle for breakfast, toppings play a vital role in their happy consumption. There are many types of brötchen—white, rye and pumpernickel, sunflower, sesame—and these can be topped with the savory items like cold cuts and cheeses, but butter, jams, honey, and marmalade are also delicious toppers. Hamburg also boasts the Franzbrötchen for breakfast, which is a sweet roll made with honey and cinnamon. Hard boiled eggs show up in this breakfast as well, and if you don’t like sausage, perhaps German breakfast is not right for you! Wide varieties of sausage show up on a German breakfast table, as well as a preparation of minced, raw, spiced pork meat called Mett. Mettbrötchen, bread rolls with Mett spread on top, are delicious, and often served with diced or ringed raw onions.


Indian Breakfast - Poon Chani
Photo By ronancrowley

Breakfast in India, as you might guess, varies quite differently with each region. My favorite Indian breakfast, however, includes a savory southern dish called Dosa. Dosa is a fermented crepe-like structure, made from a rice and black lentil batter. It is a common street food, where the batter will be spooned onto a griddle greased with oil or ghee (clarified butter) and spread out evenly until it forms a pancake. Then, once flipped and heated on both sides so that the crust is dry, the pancake is removed from the griddle and served with vegetable or sauce fillings, or with a vegetarian side dish (such as sambar or chutney). The Masala Dosa, more recently invented, was named one of the top ten tastiest foods of the world last year, with good reason—here, the Dosa is stuffed with an onion and potato curry.

If it were up to me, I would have breakfast as every single one of my meals. Even though listing these typical breakfasts in Finland, Italy, Germany, and India doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of delectable and fascinating breakfasts from around the world, these sure give you something to think about.

At least you can be certain that they will get your stomach grumbling! Pardon me while I go on a search for some Mulino Bianco cookies…

Written by Gale Thompson