We know that a bowl of sugary cereal and milk can be sublimely satisfying. But trust us, those soggy Frosted Flakes have nothing on the exotic delights of breakfasts in Turkey and Zimbabwe.
Morning meal traditions vary widely from country to country. While some cultures rely on a single dish that can be prepared fast and eaten quickly, others savor the morning and fuel themselves with multi-coursed feasts that put the traditional American breakfast of eggs, toast, bacon or sausage, cereal, juice and coffee to shame.
Here are five examples from different parts of the globe that may have you longing to join a very far away table:
Arepas are beloved in Colombia. They’re usually made of yellow corn maize, though you will see flour ones from time to time. For breakfast, there’s the very traditional fillings of mild cheese and avocado (think really banging avocado toast) but they can also be stuffed with vegetables, eggs and meats so a chorizo, egg and cheese arepa is a strong Colombian answer to your deli’s BEC.
German breakfast is all about variety. First come the hot cocoa, coffee or tea and a roll with butter and maybe some jam or honey. You might also find slices of mild farmers cheese and sausage, probably a hardboiled egg and some fruit or a glass of juice. Another popular and more modest German morning meal is muesli—a cereal of rolled oats, grains, nuts and seeds—either topped with yogurt or in milk.
The Taiwanese start their day in a big way with lots of carb-heavy dishes and glasses of hot soy milk (dou jiang). A few of the dishes you’re sure to taste during the elaborate feast is a wheat cake that’s baked and served plain (shao bing), stuffed with egg (shao bing jai dan) or with beef (niu rou shao bing); turnip cake with rice flower and shrimp that’s fried with an egg on top (luo buo gao); small steamed pork buns (xiao long bao) and twisted fried crullers made of flour and baking powder that are dipped in the steaming soy milk and whose name translates to “oil stick” (you tiao).
Americans are likely astounded by the spread found on a typical Turkish table in the morning. There’s always a few different varieties of cheese like beyaz peynir (close to feta), lor (like an uncured goat’s milk cottage cheese) and civil peyniri (long and stringy). Everyone enjoys simit—it’s like a sesame seed bagel to pair with the cheese and some jams, tahini and olive spreads, and pide is another traditional fluffy bread that’s also coated with seeds. Sucuklu yumurta is eggs baked with spicy dried sausage and there’s also an egg scramble, menemen, with lots of oregano, bell peppers, scallions and tomatoes. And while Turkish coffee is globally loved, they tend to start their mornings with strong black tea instead.
Bota is the traditional breakfast in a number of African countries, including Zimbabwe. It’s a thin porridge made of white corn maize known as miele meel or miele pap that’s a staple of the cuisine in general. Bota is flavored with milk and peanut butter and topped with peanuts for texture and maybe a dollop of jam for sweetness, so it’s a protein-hearty meal that’s meant to stick with you throughout the day.