Although South Africans are used to eating maize meal, oats or some kind of cereal for breakfast, it comes as a surprise that in most places around the world this is not considered breakfast at all.
Imagine my shock and horror while residing in South Korea when I found a group of my colleagues hungrily digging into huge portions of curry and rice and French fries first thing in the morning. This was not breakfast food and when I asked to be pointed in the right direction to the breakfast buffet, that’s all there was.
Where was the cereal and milk that had been such a staple throughout my life? At first I thought that rice or noodle dishes for breakfast was unique to South Korea but soon discovered that breakfast differs greatly around the world.
I remember tucking into fresh baguettes with a variety of jams and cheeses in Reunion Island and a similar style breakfast with rye bread in Germany. Greece had their delicious fresh yoghurt and honey to add to the breakfast menu.
Throughout most of Asia it was totally different. No distinction is made between the type of food you are eating and the time of day. It’s very normal to eat fried rice and chicken or beef for breakfast. I’ve seen people tuck into steaks for breakfast.
Further afield in India and Sri Lanka its standard to have a masala dosa or roti and curry sauce for breakfast. In Jamaica, a local fruit called ackee is the preferred breakfast food, and is often eaten with fish.
Mexicans prefer huevos rancheros, made of tortillas filled with eggs and cheese in a tomato chilli stew. At first, like most Westerners, I turned up my nose to these breakfasts and found it ludicrous that anyone would think it’s fine to opt for these kinds of foods for breakfast.
Once living abroad for a while you slowly start to integrate into your chosen country’s way of life. This is when curiosity slowly starts to get hold of you. For me it started in Malaysia. I already had a penchant for roti and curry from all those years frequenting Fordsburg so I figured why not give roti canai, a roti with a watery curry sauce, a shot and try it for breakfast?
The result was an epiphany. I was in food heaven. Gone were the memories of all those years eating bland cereal. I decided then and there that I would at least give this style of breakfast a shot. It made sense to me.
Health people are always advocating eating a big, healthy breakfast so why not have noodles or a rice dish for breakfast? My body would have the chance to use all the nutrients throughout the day. So, I did. For a while at least.
I ate the rice porridge and the full-on meals and revelled in the rebelliousness of it all. After a while I found my waistline growing.
As much as I was enjoying all this carb-filled goodness, my lunches and dinners weren’t changing in size. I just did not have the capacity to burn all those kilojoules throughout one day. So I’ve embraced the magnificence of fresh fruit for breakfast instead.