Morning Eats


By Claire Howard

Humans enjoying the most important meal of the day

Illustration by  Sujean Gahng

Illustration by Sujean Gahng

If I’m running late in the morning, I may forego making my bed or doing my makeup, but I will never forego eating a good breakfast. For me, it is the early time to prepare myself for the upcoming day and a space to enjoy a few quiet moments eating in silence before the noisiness of the day begins. 

The idea of breakfast is one to be fondly imagined: stacks of piping hot pancakes ready to be devoured with melted butter and sweet syrup, yellow plates of freshly scrambled eggs and a smell of coffee that wafts through every room in a house. To wake up with laziness and take the morning slow, with no plans except eating this irresistible meal is a picturesque view of what the first meal of the day could be like. If we look around the world, every country has its own ideas of what a lovely breakfast should look like.

Turkey — a smorgasbord of only the wholesome

Imagine a table carefully arranged with small plates, silverware and glass tea-cups. A table spread with plates and bowls containing freshly-baked bread, cheeses, olives, cucumbers, honey, tomatoes, nuts, jam, butter and fresh fruit. Coffee is never served at breakfast because Turkish coffee is dark and strong. Rather, copious amounts of black tea are served at breakfast. In fact, the Turkish word for breakfast, kahlvati, is a combination of the words “under” and “coffee” meaning the food you eat before you have coffee. The food itself is a collection of delectable bites.

Breakfast in Turkey is not composed of a hot cooked main dish but rather a spread of fresh wholesome food with the intent that people should eat a little bit of everything. On the weekends, more elaborate dishes may be added, such as Menemen, a spicy concoction of eggs scrambled with onions, green peppers and tomatoes; Börek, a tangy, savory cheese pastry; or Simit, a sort of twisted circular bread covered in sesame seeds and an iconic Turkish breakfast food. 

Turkish people value breakfast as important family time, with the emphasis not only on the food they’re eating but also the time to linger and socialize with each other before their day starts. 

Mexico — food for strength and family for the soul

For those who enjoy breakfast as a light sweet affair with nothing more than bread and butter or a bowl of sugary cereal, a hearty Mexican breakfast may be difficult to digest. Breakfast is considered an important meal to fill up on in Mexico. Its history dates back to a time when Mexico was an agrarian society and its people, the majority of whom were field workers, needed a filling, hearty meal in the morning to keep them energized throughout the laborious day. 

While Mexican society has evolved, the emphasis on the importance of breakfast lingers and the meal is still generally quite large. A common breakfast choice is Enchiladas, tortillas filled with chicken, beef, cheese, beans or other vegetables and typically covered with a red chile sauce, salsa verde or a cream-based sauce.

Chilaquiles, a dish originally invented to use up the stale leftover tortillas from the day before, is another popular choice. The fried tortillas or tortilla chips, piled with stacks of cheese and an assortment of meat, eggs, salsa, onions or mole and heated till it’s melty and chewy, are sure to fulfill the family’s appetite.

Similar to Turkey, Mexico places a high value on breakfast as a meal to be savored, where the significance of family is sacred and mealtime is to be treasured as time spent with one another. 

South Africa — local and foreign mingled 

While many African countries have their own breakfast customs and eat regional dishes made with local ingredients, South Africa’s culture and breakfast have been influenced by European settlers.

Breakfast in South Africa looks much like a typical European breakfast; it is not heavy but very light, and it’s often the typical coffee-and-bread breakfast of Europe — consisting of tea or coffee with profuse amounts of sugar, bread with butter and jam, and cornbread. 

Yet despite the strong European influence, South Africans do still enjoy their regional cuisine for breakfast with one of the most popular foods being mealie pap, a hot porridge made by white maize and served with milk and sugar or enjoyed sometimes with a sweet maple butter sauce. Eating this slowly-revived regional food has recently been seen as an act of pride in the South African culture and a remembrance of their heritage. 

For many cultures, though the types of food eaten differ widely among countries, breakfast is savored as a delicious, unhurried meal with loved ones to provide a well-prepared start to the day. To enjoy breakfast slowly in this fashion and to eat the scrumptious and wholesome food served in these countries to me sound like a dream. Whether your breakfast looks more like the bite-sized varieties on a Turkish morning, the hot filling meal that Mexicans cook, or the light sweetness of South African foods, there’s nothing quite like waking up in the morning to the smell of a delicious breakfast that evokes feelings of happiness and home. 

Claire Howard is a freshman studying economics and international relations at Syracuse University.