Breakfast is traditionally thought of as the most important meal of the day. For most of us in the UK, breakfast tends to be toast or cereal, perhaps porridge if we're being good (or a fry-up if we're not!) You can easily get western-style breakfasts wherever in the world you go on holiday, but what exotic delights could you have if you went for the traditional breakfast option instead? Whether it's soup and salad in Turkey or salted fish in Japan, here's five of our favourite global breakfast treats...
TRADITIONAL BREKKY - BACON =D
Van, in the east of Turkey, is famous for its breakfast culture. You can get a Van-style breakfast throughout the country, but for the best, go straight to the source! Van has many ‘kahvalti salonu’ - breakfast salons - which serve Van breakfasts all day long. This multi-plate feast starts with cucumbers and tomatoes, served with olives. There's fresh pastries a-plenty, and a variety of cheeses. Next up, ‘kaymak’ - a Turkish-style clotted cream, along with ‘cacik’, a thick yoghurt, mixed with parsley, and honey on the comb. This is all washed down with endless cups of tea. In the winter you might also be offered a hot bowl of tarhana soup, made from cracked wheat, yoghurt and vegetable which are fermented, dried and then re-hydrated with either milk or water. Mmmm!
For Western taste-buds accustomed to starting the day with nothing more challenging than a Pop Tart, the traditional Japanese breakfast can be quite a rude awakening. Rice is a staple at all Japanese meals, and breakfast is no exception. It's traditional to 'dress' your rice by making a hollow in the centre, then adding raw egg which you mix with soy sauce, pour in and stir in until the rice is golden. Typically you’ll have this alongside a bowl of miso soup, a savoury broth made from soy beans, and might embellish things with salted fish, rolled omelette, pickled vegetables or dried seaweed, along with ‘natto’ - fermented soy beans. You mix your natto with soy sauce and mustard, and serve with green tea for the perfect first-thing-in-the-morning kick.
At first glance, a traditional Egyptian brekkie might not look too different to a traditional British one. Fried eggs accompanied by pita bread - so far, so normal. But those 'baked beans' won't be what you're expecting: British baked beans are made from haricot beans in a sweetened tomato sauce, while ‘ful medames’, as the Egyptian breakfast bean dish is called, is made with slow-cooked fava beans, sometimes with lentils which are tossed in a zingy mixture of olive oil, garlic, chopped parsley and lemon juice. ‘Ful medames’ are certainly healthier than our sugar-and-salt packed baked beans, but garlic at breakfast?! Black tea is the order of the day too, always from tea leaves, never a bag, and served tooth-meltingly sweet - undoing much of the healthy bean dish’s benefits!
In Baja California, the state that reaches down from the USA’s west coast like a finger into the top left-side of Mexico, breakfast comes fresh from the ocean. Baja invented ‘tacos de pescados’ - the fish taco - a lip-smacking blend of grilled or fried goujons of fish, served on a freshly-made corn or flour tortilla, and always puffy, smoky and salty from the grill. Fish favourites include local mahi-mahi or prawns. It's essentially post-pub food... dished out at breakfast time. The perfect additions to the basic fish taco are a good dollop of sour cream, guacamole and ‘pico de gallo’ - which roughly translates as 'rooster's beak'! (That's salsa to you and me). On the drinks menu, it's freshly-squeezed juice and a cup of Nescafe.
The land of exotic spices, breakfast in Sri Lanka is guaranteed to get your taste buds tingling. ‘Kiribath’ - milk rice - is a coconut milky rice dish, sometimes made with red rice, served cut into diamonds. The cooling coconut is a perfect foil for the fiery hot ‘lunu miris’ that it's served with. This is a blend of red chili, onion, Maldive fish (smoked and sun-dried Tuna) and spices - strictly for those who like it hot! Hoppers are another breakfast favourite, made from fermented rice flour batter which is fried or steamed. There's huge variety in the way these are prepared, from string hoppers which are served like spaghetti, to egg and honey versions that come out more like pancakes. Chicken, fish or vegetable curries are breakfast staples here too, washed down with endless cups of tea - as you’d expect, with Sri Lanka being one of the world's biggest tea producers!