What's for breakfast in Europe?
Not only is breakfast the most important meal of the day, it’s easily the best. Sandwiches and meatloaf ain’t got nothin’ on a teetering pancake stack or some Hollandaise-drenched eggs bene. Sure, you bought that box of cardboard-flavoured bran cereal with good intention, but when you stumble into the kitchen in the early hours and that wad of bacon is staring deep into your stomach, you both know what’s about to go down.
If you have been labelled a breakfast snob, if your Instagram feed is calorific with #foodporn or if you hit a buffet with the passion of Miley Cyrus and a wrecking ball, you’re not alone. You can’t beat a good breakkie, and nobody knows it better than our pals across the pond. From black pudding to tea and toast, let’s take a gourmet gander at how those crazy cats in Europe take their morning meal.
It may not sound pretty, but hagelslag is your new best friend when it’s time for ontbijt. Dark, milk and white chocolate sprinkles and ribbons (vlokken) are delicately strewn onto slices of bread. You heard right – the Dutch basically eat fairy bread for breakfast. You can also have it with pindakass (peanut butter). So basically, Reese’s Pieces on toast.
The French call it petit dejeuner and prefer to keep it, well, petite. It’s no coincidence France is synonymous with all things romantic when their first meal of the day is saturated in sweetness. A pain au chocolat or pain au raisin (flaky, buttery chocolate or raisin croissants) with a milky coffee is the preferred way to kick off the day.
Italians tend to wake up with a bit of a sugar craving. Donuts (ciaimbella) for breakfast may sound too good to be true, but Italians know life is too short to wait for dessert. If you don’t go nuts for donuts, try the croissant’s Italian cousin cornetto with a hot shot of espresso or a cappuccino for an authentic colazione.
All this time I have been lead to believe churros (long, fried doughnut-like pillars) are a post meridiem treat. When you awake in Spain, it is perfectly normal to devour sugar-covered, chocolate-dipped churros or galletas cookies. Other typical desayuno foods include toast with tomato and olive oil or cured ham. But… churros.
If the Swedish Chef were to host a frukost cooking show, chances are he would be whipping up some smorgasar (open sandwiches) smothered with cod roe caviar freshly squeezed from a tube. Failing that, a bowl of cereal topped with fermented filmjolk (that’s soured milk) will see you right. Wait, where are the lingonberries?
The sight of a full cooked English “fry up” is close to home for many Aussies. Enough to feed a middle-class working family or a small nation, the breakfast plate is traditionally piled high with crispy bacon, sausages, baked beans, fried tomato, mushroom, egg and bread and black pudding (yeah, congealed blood sausage). Vegetarians, look away.
Everything is better coddled in pastry. Galatopita or “milk pie”, spanakopita (a kind of spinach slice) and cheese-or-custard-filled bougatsa are common features on the Greek breakfast table. If the idea of a breakfast pie is too much, thyme honey and traditional Greek yoghurt with fresh fruit is a healthier (cough, duller) option.
And here you were thinking you were safe from haggis in the wee hours! Think again, laddy. A crunchy hunk of haggis (savoury pudding of sheep’s liver, heart and lungs) usually sits alongside potato hash and fried-fat eggs, ensuring your arteries will work hard for the rest of the day. Too much? Maybe just hot kippers on toast then.
The Danes may be famous for delicious danish, but bread and cheese is where it’s at for morgenmad. It doesn’t come much easier than freshly baked rye rolls slapped with a cheese slice or jam. Alternatively, sprinkle a little ymerdrys (crumbled rye bread, berries and brown sugar) on your buttermilk-like ymer and you’re ready to seize the day.
I’ve never understood people going out for breakfast and ordering muesli, but I guess if you were to do it anywhere it would be in the homeland of fruity, oaty Birchermüesli. Apparently the fondue pot doesn’t roll out until at least lunchtime, but you can still get a little cheesy with the help of a loaf of braided white zopf bread.