If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it’s no surprise that bosses around the world have also conspired to make it the tastiest. Some breakfast foods are so popular they can be found almost anywhere, while others remain some countries’ best-kept secrets.
From pastries and eggs to waffles, sausage, and everything in between, the sheer number of mundane snacks is only equaled by the countless people eager to eat them. So if your stomach is ready to begin your multicontinental journey, here are ten breakfast foods from around the world that you must try.
Related: 10 food inventions that changed the way we eat breakfast
10 Arepas (Venezuela)
Made with semolina or ground cornmeal, these flat round patties are the versatile centerpiece of many Venezuelan meals, including breakfast! Arepas can be prepared in many ways, such as grilled, baked, fried, boiled, or steamed.
Depending on the region, an arepa will vary in color, flavor and size, but also in the delicious combination of ingredients that it contains. Avocados, chicken, eggs, and tasty Venezuelan white cheese are just a few favorite breakfast fillings. For an even more substantial breakfast, try adding beans, salad, or assorted meats.
With more than 70 different ways of preparing it in neighboring Colombia, it’s easy to see, and even easier to taste, why the arepa has been a culinary staple in northern South America for thousands of years.
9 Silog (Philippines)
Silog is a Filipino breakfast dish made with fried eggs and sinangag (fried rice). Originally known as tapsilog, which included sinangag and beef tapa, silog eventually became so popular that the hangover food made its way onto the breakfast menus of restaurants and fast food chains.
All types of silog feature the dish’s main ingredient of garlic fried rice, often accompanied by a fried egg. After that, however, the number of variations on this incredibly malleable breakfast is something to feast your eyes on.
To make it more digestible, here are some of the most popular silogs: hotsilog (hot dog, fried rice, and fried egg), tosilog (cured pork, fried rice, and fried egg), and longsilog (Filipino-style sausages, fried rice, and fried egg). ). Yearning for silog yet?
8 Menemen (Turkey)
Hailing from the Izmir province of Turkey, menemen is a traditional Turkish tomato-based paste that will liven up your mornings. Menemen is a mix of finely diced or grated tomatoes with sautéed green chilies and beaten eggs topped with spices like ground black and red pepper, oregano, and garlic. You’ll usually find menemen served in metal pans alongside a large basket of bread at a restaurant. The spread is collected directly with the bread, allowing you to forget about cutlery.
When served for breakfast or brunch, most chefs often forgo adding onions, which is a common ingredient on lunch or dinner menus. Be careful though, because many menemen lovers will vehemently argue in favor of the vegetable. Other takes on menemen add chunks of cheese, spinach, and sausage to the mix. Needless to say, this is one extension that won’t make you regret leaving the bed.
7 Ful Medames (Egypt)
Since the days of ancient Egypt, ful medames have been satisfying the morning hunger of man and pharaoh alike. The simple yet timeless recipe features slow-braised broad beans and chickpeas seasoned with lemon juice, parsley, cumin, chili and onion. Hard-boiled eggs are a popular addition, along with a slice of pita bread and diced vegetables.
When prepared and served in the traditional way, the ful medames will arrive in the same large metal pitcher in which it was made. A favorite in Africa and the Middle East, as well as being recognized as a national dish of Egypt, the ful medames has been adapted into many a reincarnation.
Some regions prepare it similar to a hummus dip with tahini, tomato, olive oil, and green peppers, while others opt for split peas, Aleppo pepper dip, or an even spicier mix with coriander, peppercorns, and saffron. I guess there’s a reason traces of the dish have been discovered in ancient tombs…
6 Syrniki (Russia)
If regular old pancakes just don’t cut it for you anymore, then it may be time to ask Mother Russia for her syrniki recipe. Derived from the Slavic word Sir, meaning “soft curd cheese,” syrniki are hand-sized girdle cakes filled with a type of soft farmer’s cheese known as quark. The batter is made from eggs, flour, and sugar, sometimes mixed with vanilla extract before browning both sides evenly on a griddle, maintaining a slightly creamy consistency.
Raisins, chopped dried apricots, apples and pears can be added to the dough, while the tastiest versions require adding onions or sour cream. When served on a plate, it’s not uncommon to find syrniki paired with fresh berries, honey, or jam. One taste of this Eastern European favorite, and you’ve got a whole new word for pancakes: syrniki!
5 Gallo Pinto (Costa Rica)
Gallo pinto is a hot breakfast dish served for generations in the Central American countries of Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Starting with a hearty base of beans and rice, gallo pinto is often colored with cooked bell peppers, cilantro, chopped onion, and garlic. Lizano Costa Rican Seasoning Sauce, a light brown sauce similar to HP sauce or Worcestershire sauce, is another popular flavoring with locals.
Several regional variations of gallo pinto define the dish in Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Central Valley is a wetter, less greasy variation that uses black beans, cilantro, and chili seasonings. Guanacaste, for its part, is fatter and prefers the red beans that are popular in Nicaraguan recipes.
Gallo pinto translates to “spotted rooster” in Spanish because of the black and red beans in the dish that give it a multicolored, speckled appearance. Although, if you ask me, the sound and smell of this dish cooking in the morning could put that rooster and his crowing at dawn out of a job.
4 Shakshuka (Israel)
Thinking of shaking up your mornings? Try the shakshuka! Derived from the Arabic term for “mixture,” shakshuka is an inexpensive and easy-to-prepare hot dish that fits any meal of the day. This hearty meal consists of a spicy tomato sauce made with olive oil, bell peppers, onions, and garlic and seasoned with cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper. The whole thing is then topped with lightly poached or hard-boiled eggs that are broken over the mixture until the yolks have set.
Various types of bread often accompany the shakshuka to soak up every last drop of the delicious sauce. Recommended breads include pita, homemade flatbread, rustic crusty bread slices, challah, and crispy latkes. The best part of the shakshuka? If you can’t finish it all in the morning, your pasta sauce for dinner is ready!
3 Churros with Chocolate (Spain)
Although the origins of this fried-dough favorite are as knotty as its shape, churros (chocolate churros, to be precise) are a much-loved breakfast dish fresh out of Spain. Pairing crunchy, cinnamon-sugar-dusted churros with a steaming cup of hot chocolate, churros con chocolate is an incomparable combination of food and drink.
Whether you’re a drinker, ladle, or straight drinker, there are even more chocolate options to pair with your churros. Champurrado is a thicker drink, while dulce de leche is caramelized milk with a sauce consistency and café con leche is strong coffee mixed with scalded milk.
Churros con chocolate are a favorite in the Spanish city of Madrid, which has led to the creation of regional variants both within and outside the city. Porras is a tastier version of the traditional churro thanks to its shorter, thicker stature and melted cheese filling. On the other hand, the tejeringo is a thinner and more circular type of churro originating from the Spanish province of Granada. Whatever your churro is, just make sure you don’t forget about the chocolate!
2 Chilaquiles (Mexico)
Have you ever wanted an enchilada for breakfast? Well, with chilaquiles, a popular breakfast dish in Mexico, now you can! Corn tortillas are usually cut into quarters before frying or baking. After that, the tortillas are softened by pouring green or red sauce over them, then shredded chicken, cheese, sliced onions, and eggs are added, either scrambled or fried. It’s not uncommon to find chilaquiles garnished with cream, crumbled queso fresco, or sliced avocado. And to really fill a void, the servings of refried beans and guacamole go great as a side dish.
The secret to differentiating the different versions of chilaquiles is in the sauce. Some have chilaquiles using the tomato and chili base of the reds, while others prefer the jalapeño, lime, and cilantro combination of the greens. Whether red or green, there is no wrong choice. After all, “chilaquiles” is derived from “chīlāquilitl,” a Nahuatl term that roughly translates to “chili peppers and vegetables.”
1 Belgian Waffle (Belgium)
Belgian waffles may share some similarities with their American cousins, but there are more than enough reasons why you shouldn’t indulge in this version of a breakfast icon. With bigger squares and better pockets, Belgian waffles are made to hold a variety of delicious ingredients like whipped cream, fresh fruit, melted butter, and of course, maple syrup!
The batter is made from brioche batter, so when combined with pearl sugar, it gives Belgian waffles a light texture and subtle crunch that will be as recognizable to your ears as it is to your tongue. But don’t forget your hands, as unlike American waffles, Belgian waffles are traditionally eaten with all ten digits. So, as long as you’re not afraid of getting a little sticky fingers, morning diners can’t go wrong with this amazing take on a breakfast table classic.
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