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Break-that-Fast: A Guide to Breakfast Foods from Around the World

It seems that all over the world, people take breakfast pretty seriously - it is the most important meal of the day after all.

Thing is, breakfast foods differ all over the globe which means there is a cornucopia of dishes you need to try which will be everything you need to start your day in the most delicious way.

You do not need a round-the-world ticket to give these all a try, luckily for you, you can find them right here in Manchester…

Europe

In Europe, the breakfast offering tends to go down the route of fresh bread, jam, cheese and ham (and plenty of coffee) wherever you go. Think the kind of ‘continental’ vibe you would find at your standard hotel breakfast buffet.

With that being said, there are lots of breakfast foods that are unique to certain countries in Europe. For example, in Spain, many people start their day with a delicious portion of Pan Con Tomate. This is a slice of bread which is sometimes toasted and topped with a sweet and undeniably fresh tomato mixture made up from tomatoes, salt, pepper, garlic and olive oil.

You will find Pan Con Tomate on tapas menus all over Spain, but its flavourful and filling nature ensures it is an excellent way to eat first thing in the morning.

I love the Pan Con Tomate from La Bandera as it is everything it needs to be and more. I only wish they were open at breakfast time so I could snuffle some before work!

In Germany, you might enjoy a pretzel with your breakfast instead of a regular old bread roll. Pretzel is unique first for its shape and secondly because it is boiled in bicarbonate of soda before baking. This ensures the dark colour of the crust, salty flavour and its delectable chewy texture. Find them (with cheese) at Albert’s Schloss.

France and Austria is home to the Croissant which is the breakfast food of choice for many people in Europe and indeed a little further afield. Granted, these aren’t the healthiest breakfasts on the planet, but that is why they are so bloody delicious.

Pastry which is made with layers and layers of butter that creates a light, crispy texture which is comparable to puff pastry from the rise in the dough and the visible layers.  Croissants have been made in some variation since the 13th century, and we have been enjoying them at breakfast time pretty much the whole of that time.

The French and Austrian Viennoiseries offer plain croissants, or more exciting variations such as the pain au chocolate (filled with dark chocolate), or the pain au raisin (filled with soaked raisins and custard).

All croissants are perfectly accompanied with a cup of strong coffee (or even hot chocolate) for a little dippage which combines to make one of the most sumptuous breakfasts in the whole world.

I would say that nothing is like what you can get in a real French Patisserie or an Austrian Veinnoiserues- but I would be lying. The Pollen croissants are out of this world. Flaky, buttery and light these croissants are just like the real thing if not better if you ask me.

I don’t need to tell you, but over here in the UK, it is all about the Full English. Bacon, eggs (to your liking), sausage, buttered toast, hash browns, mushrooms, grilled tomato, beans, fried bread, black pudding a great big pot of English Breakfast tea is what you can and should expect from this gargantuan breakfast feast.

Of course, you already knew all that, but what you might not know is where to get a good one. We have an entire round-up dedicated to the question, but in short, my recommendations would be The Bay Horse Tavern (for their fantastic British sausages) and Trof (for the whole damn thing.)

America

It isn’t a secret that the people from the US of A take breakfast pretty darn seriously. It seems that the aim of breakfast in the States is to get as many calories into your body in one sitting with the likes of high-sugar cereals (think Froot Loops, Lucky Charms and Hershey’s) as well as the likes of steak and eggs, Pop-tarts, waffles and literally ANYTHING smothered in syrup.

The thing I think about the most when it comes to a ‘true American breakfast’ is pancakes – and I mean the fluffy thick kind. Made with raising agent for that added ‘ompf’, these bad boys are usually stacked high and served with ample amounts of syrup and butter as standard.

Of course, you can take it further than that. Many Americans enjoy their pancakes with blueberries, chocolate chips, peanut butter or anything else they find in their treat drawer.

Luckily, we do not have to catch a flight to the US to get our fill of a fantastic stack of pancakes. Alabama’s (which has recently re-opened) has a stunning menu of pancakes with toppings like berries, banoffee and cinnamon apple to name but a few.

Eat New York also have some naughty snacks on their brunch menu such as the peanut butter banana and chocolate ones – they are righteous to say the very least.

Sticking on the continent but moving south we get to Mexico which is home to the world-famous breakfast dish Huevos Rancheros. Made to feed hungry farmers in Mexico in the mid-morning, this dish consists of a corn tortilla which is ideally slightly charred with fried eggs, salsa fresca, refried beans, avocado (or guacamole), perhaps some rice and a garnish of coriander and lime.

Huevos Rancheros creates a spicy start to your day, but it sure is delicious and filling. Get your paws on a rendition of the dish on the award-winning brunch menu over at Common.

The Middle East

When looking to the Middle East and Northern Africa, breakfast teeters on the edge of being familiar with what we enjoy in the west. Turkey and Lebanon enjoy the ‘continental’ style with cheese, yoghurt, breads, honey and jams with a little twist.

Often, this will be combined with baked eggs, and sujok sausages which are a heavily spiced and aromatic beef sausage served grilled. These will come with various cheeses (like feta and halloumi), green olives, cucumber and tomato as well as a range of different flatbreads. These breakfasts are filling and designed to be shared leisurely between loved ones or friends.

Other than on the bustling streets of Istanbul, there are a handful of restaurants in the UK which offer up a traditional Turkish breakfast. A little birdie told me that a breakfast mezze such as this is going to start at Zouk from Sunday 24th February and you are going to want to get stuck in, but you didn’t hear it from me…

Over in Israel, Egypt and Syria, people are tucking into Shakshouka in the mornings. Coming from the Arabic slang for the word ‘mixture’, this is a dish which is made from a variety of ingredients and this will vary from restaurant to restaurant and family to family.

In its most basic form, shakshouka is eggs baked into a spiced tomato sauce with chillis, onions cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper and nutmeg. This is then eaten with a warmed flatbread to dip and mix the runny yolk into the rich sauce.

You see it on a lot of menus here in the UK, but one of my favourites is at Leaf on Portland Street who are growing kings in the breakfast and brunch scene here in Manchester. Their shakshouka is deliciously rich and dark with sumptuous spices and perfectly runny eggs in the middle. They also top it off with a little dukkha (spiced seed mix) which really pulls it all together.

Alternately, Evelyn’s is home to a shakshouka which is spiked with a little harissa with delicious results. It comes highly recommended.

Asia

It is when we get to Asia where things start to tread into unfamiliar territory. In places like India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal, people eat curry for breakfast, lunch and dinner with a side of chutney and bread.

You can expect slightly lighter curries in the morning, perhaps with paneer cheese as well as spiced eggs, and the delicious Channa Puri at breakfast time in India. Channa Puri is a sweet chickpea curry cooked in a spicy tomato masala which is perfectly sided with some crispy fried naan bread. You can get hold of it at Zouk.

In some places, like the Parsi café’s in Bombay, you get rich dishes which contain lots of eggs like keema per edu (fried eggs with minced lamb with chicken livers), spiced scrambled eggs with buttery pau or Kejriwal (fried eggs on spiced cheese-toast). These are Irani classics at breakfast time, and so you will find them all on the breakfast menu at Dishoom.

South of India is Sri Lanka which also enjoys curry at breakfast alongside fresh fruit and roti bread. Other than this, Sri Lankans eat Pani pol (sweet coconut pancakes filled with sugar) , Kiribath (milk rice – like rice pudding) and Hoppers.

Hoppers are made from a batter of rice flour and coconut milk which is cooked on a bowl-shaped hopper pan. They are then cooked until crisp at the edges with a thicker doughier centre. You then fill these edible bowls with a range of fillings (egg, curry, sambol, veggies) and tuck in.  These make the perfect pairing with a cup of real Ceylon tea from the region.

I’ve been searching high and low for hoppers since I got back from my trip to Sri Lanka at the end of last year, and I finally found them at Stockport’s Sri Lankan restaurant Little Lanka and they were just as delicious as I remembered.

Meanwhile, in Japan, it is normal to eat a selection of rice, fish and soup in the morning, while in Korea, the same things are eaten pretty much three times a day. When it comes to China, however, there is a big breakfast tradition in the form of the Dim Sum brunch.

It is traditional to go to a tea house in the mornings and enjoy various dim sum dishes washed down with heaps of green tea in China, and it is things like char sui bao, congee (rice soup), Cheung Fun stuffed noodles and other steamed dumplings cooked in a bamboo steamer.

If you wanted to get yourself a dim sum brunch here in Manchester, you have a lot of options, but there are only two that you should take notice of. First, you should go and follow Oh Mei Dumpling on social media and find out where she’s going to be next because her dumplings are out of this world. Alternately, look out for her at all the main food fairs like GRUB and the Makers Markets.

Secondly, you could get yourselves down to Glamorous restaurant which is located inside a giant Chinese supermarket in Ancoats. If you want the authentic experience, get yourselves down at about 11am on a Sunday and get your fill of the little trolleys full of dumplings until you turn into one.

So there you go. Next time you pick up a sad piece of toast or stare gloomily into your bowl of soggy bran flakes- know that there is a world of breakfast food out there waiting for you to tuck in you cultured swine you.

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