It is easy to fall in the cultural trap and assume that your region’s breakfast is the norm. Guests visiting from around the world will probably appreciate a taste of local cuisine in the morning, but knowing what they are used to eat for their first meal of the day, may help you keep your guests awed!
Here is a brief description of popular sweet and salty breakfasts from around Europe.
So, let’s start with the breakfasts of all breakfasts (or not?).
English Breakfast involves fried egg, scrambled egg or poached egg with bacon and sausages, usually with mushrooms, tomatoes, baked beans, fried bread, Black pudding or white pudding and toast. It is possible, however, to cook a healthy and nutritious version by grilling the protein and using poached, rather than fried, eggs, and variations based on one egg, one protein and toast abound. The “full Scottish breakfast” tends to omit pork sausages and have beef sausages instead.
A simpler, yet nutrient variety is the Finnish Breakfast that consists of coffee or tea with open sandwiches. The sandwich is often buttered, with toppings such as hard cheese or cold cuts. Finns usually do not have sweets on their breads such as jam, or chocolate. Sour milk products such as yogurt or viili are also common breakfast foods, usually served in a bowl with cereals such as corn flakes, muesli, and sometimes with sugar, fruit or jam. Oatmeal or mixed grain porridge may also be served, usually topped with butter.
Similarly, the Norwegian Breakfast also consists of open sandwiches, often whole wheat bread, with cheese like brunost and Norvegia, cold cuts, leverpostei, jam etc. Whilst the Swedish prefer to top their sandwiches with caviar, cheese, cottage cheese, cream cheese, eggs, scrambled or boiled, pâté (leverpastej) with pickled cucumber, tomatoes or cucumber, or a toast with marmalade or maybe honey. Common drinks are water, coffee, milk and juice.
Heading South to the island of Malta, breakfast integrates both British and continental elements. Usually the Maltese start their day with a bowl of cereal mixed with milk, sometimes with a cup of coffee or tea. However, their best kept (breakfast) secret is the Pastizz – a savoury pastry filled with ricotta or peas.
The traditional Italian Breakfast simply consists of a caffelatte (hot coffee with milk) with bread or rolls, butter and jam — known as prima colazione or just colazione. Fette biscottate (a cookie-like hard bread often eaten with hazelnut chocolate spread or butter and jam) and biscotti (cookies) are commonly eaten. If breakfast is eaten in a bar (coffee shop), it is composed of cappuccino and cornetto.
In Bulgaria, Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, parts of Croatia, breakfast usually consists of various kinds of savory or sweet pastry, with cheese, meat or jam filling. The most typical breakfast consists of two slices of burek and a glass of yogurt. Breakfast also often consists of open sandwiches. The sandwich is buttered (with margarine), with toppings such as prosciutto and yellow cheese.
In Central Spain there is a special breakfast ‘known as chocolate con churros — hot chocolate with Spanish-style fritters, which are extruded sticks of doughnut-like dough with a star-shaped profile covered in sugar. The chocolate drink is made very thick and sweet. In Madrid, churros are somewhat smaller and shaped like a charity ribbon. This meal is normally served in cafeterías but it is not a regular or usual breakfast at Madrid homes. The usual one is the same as in the rest of Spain: coffee with milk, orange juice, biscuits or toasts, with butter and jam. In the North, East and West it is more common to have a cup of coffee (usually with milk) and a toast with a choice of olive oil and salt, tomato and olive oil, butter, jam, pâté, jamón serrano (cured ham), and other options like sobrasada (a raw cured spiced sausage that is easy to spread), and in Andalucia, pringá. Freshly squeezed orange juice is widely available in most places as an alternative for coffee. The breakfast is not often larger than these two items, because usually in late morning there is a break known as almuerzo when there is a snack. Sometimes, toast is replaced with galletas (a type of cookies made with flour, sugar, oil and vanilla flavour), magdalenas (a Spanish version of the French madeleine made with oil instead of butter) or buns.
Then again, the traditional Polish breakfast is a large spread with a variety of sides eaten with bread or toast. Sides include various cold cuts, meat spreads, the Polish sausage kielbasa, tomatoes, Swiss cheese, and sliced pickles. Twaróg, a Polish cheese, is the breakfast classic and comes in many forms. Twaróg can be eaten plain, with salt, sugar, or honey, or it can be mixed with chives into a cream cheese-like spread. Eggs are served often as the main breakfast item, mostly soft-boiled or scrambled. The Hungarian Breakfast is also based on a large choice. It generally consists of fresh bread or a toast, butter, cheese or different cream cheeses, túró cheese or körözött (Liptauer cheese spread), cold cuts such as ham, liver pâté (called májkrém or kenőmájas), bacon, salami, beef tongue, mortadella, disznósajt (head cheese), different Hungarian sausages or kolbász. Even eggs, (fried, scrambled or boiled), French toast called bundás kenyér and vegetables (like peppers, bell peppers, tomatoes, radish, scallion and cucumber) are part of the Hungarian breakfast. Sometimes breakfast is a cup of milk, tea or coffee with pastries, bread rolls or crescent-shaped bread (kifli), toast, pastries with different fillings (sweet and salty as well), butter, jam or honey and a bun or a strudel Hungarian cuisine, or cereal like muesli and perhaps fruit.
On the other hand, breakfast in Greece includes bread with butter, honey or marmalade with coffee or milk. Breakfast cereals are also eaten. Children also eat nutella type cream on bread. No breakfast at all is common.
The typical German breakfast consists of bread or bread rolls, butter, jam, ham, cheeses, meat spreads, cold cuts, hard- or soft-boiled eggs and coffee. Cereals have become popular, and regional variation is significant.
In France, a typical breakfast consists of a cup of coffee, often café au lait, or hot chocolate, sometimes accompanied by a glass of orange or grapefruit juice. The main food consists of sweet products such as tartines (slices of baguette or other breads spread with butter, jam or chocolate paste), sometimes dunked in the hot drink. Brioches and other pastries such as croissants, pains au chocolat (chocolatine) and pains aux raisins are also traditional, but more of a weekend special treat.