What's for Breakfast? Imagine you'VE Gone to a Foreign Country. in the Morning, You Wake Upand You're Really Hungry

By Hammons, Deborah | The Christian Science Monitor, February 23, 1999 | Go to article overview

What's for Breakfast? Imagine you'VE Gone to a Foreign Country. in the Morning, You Wake Upand You're Really Hungry


Hammons, Deborah, The Christian Science Monitor


Want a pickled plum for breakfast? Umeboshi from Japan are said to be so sour they lift your scalp, shoot lightning down your spine, and shrivel your toes. Umeboshi are eaten in Japan for breakfast before drinking Miso-Shiru (miso soup).

Miso, a paste of fermented soybeans, tastes better the older it gets. Stored in wooden vats, miso can be kept for 10 years without spoiling. In Korea, everyone puts miso in the bottom of their bowl, pours in hot water, and adds seaweed, tofu, fish, onions, or chili peppers. That would wake up anyone!

The name "breakfast" says exactly what it is. To "fast" means to not eat. Breakfast breaks the fast of not having eaten all night. Ancient cave drawings in France show people around a campfire breaking the fast together. Scientists believe the invention of fire changed breakfast and the way humans ate. And boy, oh boy, has it changed! In the 1880s, the president of a railroad company in the United States wrote home to his wife about his breakfast: two trout, bacon, lamb chops, fried potatoes and tomatoes, biscuits with honey, fried eggs and ham, a stack of griddle cakes and sausages with maple syrup. The man added, "Cook sent out to see if I wanted apple pie. I was near to full, but I had a piece, {so as} not to hurt his feelings." Today, many people start their day with just a hot drink and a roll. In North America, France, Italy, and even much of South and Central America, this has become the habit. Often, however, these small breakfasts are followed later in the morning with more food - almost two breakfasts. Around the world, street vendors and food stalls sell morning food. In Italy, there's breakfast pizza; in Egypt, fava beans with pita bread. (Egyptian vendors cook eggs in their shells in the beans, which turns the eggs brown.) Congee (rice boiled in water until it's thick and soupy) is sold on the streets of Hong Kong, Taiwan, and China. Locals spice up congee with fish or hot-pepper sauce. In the highlands of New Guinea, a large island north of Australia, Pacific, a traditional breakfast is a piece of Kau Kau (sweet potato) pulled from the hot coals of a fire. Children sometimes walk to school with their Kau Kau on the end of a stick they carry on their shoulder. On the Ivory Coast of Africa, a favorite dish is yam - not ham - and eggs. The yam is browned and mashed until it's about half-an-inch thick. Then it's salted and sprinkled with chili powder. The eggs are placed on top, and the whole dish is cooked in the oven until the eggs are done. Of course, Australians can't live without Vegemite, a dark-brown extract from yeast, which they spread on toast. Enjoyed by schoolchildren and adults across the land Down Under, Vegemite tastes pretty awful to anyone not used to it. (Then again, so is peanut butter to many non-Americans!) Although each region has traditional breakfast dishes, ready-to- eat cereal is eaten by millions of people worldwide. …

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