We’re always told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. We can agree that this is true, but its harder to agree on what exactly constitutes breakfast food. Can any food be a breakfast food? For many this continues to be an open question. Traditionally, many of us think of foods like cereal, toast, pancakes, sweet roles and bacon and eggs. Does black pudding and haggis sound appetizing? What about some reindeer meat with your eggs? Maybe you’d prefer some mint flavored fish that’s popular in Thailand. These foods only scratch the surface of diverse and strange breakfast foods you should try.
10. Rudolph Recipes
The Christmas season probably isn’t the best time of year to be writing about reindeers as food, but the truth is there are plenty of people around the world who enjoy a nice big helping of reindeer meat for breakfast. The Alaska Sausage Company offers several products that include reindeer meat including rings and links. Canned reindeer meat hits peak demand in Finland around the Christmas season, but it enjoys a big following year-round. Many of us have grown up with romantic notions fueled by books, songs and tv programs about Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and Santa’s other little helpers. However, in countries like Finland that have reindeer herds, Santa’s helpers are thought of much as many people think of cows. The hardy Fins enjoy this gamey, low-fat meat very much and incorporate it into a lot of different recipes such as hearty stews. One popular breakfast in Finland consists of scrambled eggs with smoked reindeer or Savuporomunakokkeli. If you can’t find reindeer meat in your local stores you can try another option. Those in the know say that caribou meat is pretty much the same thing as reindeer meat so you can use it as a substitute. You might still think reindeer meat is a strange breakfast food, but it might be one worth trying.
9. Good Morning Scotland
Haggis is a traditional Scottish dish that can be eaten at any meal and is often a part of a cooked Scottish breakfast. This delicacy is a meat pudding with ancient origins usually made from sheep organs mixed with suet, oatmeal and seasonings and cooked in a sheep’s stomach or a bag. Haggis is often the centerpiece of a cooked Scottish breakfast that can also feature potato hash, toast, eggs, bacon, fried mushrooms, scones, oat cakes (similar to pancakes) and black pudding. Black pudding is also known as blood sausage and is another interesting choice for a breakfast food. This is also a savory pudding and is made from stuffing blood, meat and fillers such as oats and barley into a casing. If this sounds like an appealing breakfast food to you then you probably have a stronger stomach than many of us. The Scottish breakfast may seem like a lot of food and it is. However, you should know that this breakfast was traditionally served to hardy farmers who needed a lot of calories to sustain themselves through a hard day working in their fields. More sedentary locals and tourists who want to order a Scottish breakfast can get modified versions of this hearty meal. They can often pick and choose a range of items from a menu that offers lighter fair such as fruit and yogurt.
8. Breakfast Down Under
Aussies can be a colorful and fun loving bunch and their choices for breakfast are definitely not a case in point. While toasted bread is a common breakfast food some toppings are stranger and more head scratching than others. Most of us are familiar with buttered toast and peanut butter and jelly, but apparently Australians are not. Vegemite on toast doesn’t seem quite as appealing as these other breakfast options. First of all the name “Vegemite” feels a bit like a con because it might make people think it’s loaded with nutritious vegetables like a V8. Technically this salty brown spread does include a bit of vegetables, but mostly in the form of celery and onion extracts. It would be like calling a packet of salsa a serving of vegetables. Vegemite’s primary ingredient is brewer’s yeast extract that is scraped from the bottom of brewing vats after the beer has been made. People who apparently know describe the taste of this savory spread as being somewhat like a beef broth. Even though Vegemite probably tastes ok it still looks like what is: beer vat scrapings in a jar with a somewhat misleading name. Its a mystery why people would prefer brewer’s yeast extract to the obvious choices like butter, cream cheese, peanut butter or jelly, but the Aussies have their own way of doing things. Vegemite is a strange breakfast food, and it is probably one worth trying, but just once.
7. Dairy You To Eat It
Milk soup with stale bread for breakfast anyone? Changua is a milk and egg soup that originated in a region of Columbia known for its cow herds and milk production. Milk and eggs are commonly used foods in the area going back at least five hundred years so it’s natural these staple ingredients would find a culinary home together. However, it sort of feels like a case of making a virtue out of a necessity. Milk and eggs are both nutritious foods but is making a savory soup out of them the most appealing way to combine them? What about a simple omelet for breakfast? Unfortunately, Changua looks like something you might find floating at the bottom of a dumpster. In a traditional Changua recipe the milk is slowly brought to a boil then one or several cracked eggs are dropped into the broth and allowed to cook for about a minute. Some modern versions of the recipe include other ingredients such as potatoes, butter and garlic. In addition to the stale bread that is softened by soaking in the soup, this strange breakfast dish is often served with a side called arepas. These are a kind of fried or baked corn meal cake and they seem like they’d be really tasty. Arepas could easily be part of a breakfast that isn’t strange, but I suppose that shouldn’t stop you from trying a bowl of Changua.
6. Her Majesty’s Breakfast
As you might expect the full English breakfast is similar to the cooked Scottish breakfast. Like their Scottish cousins the English like a big breakfast spread that includes sausages, bacon, eggs, tomatoes, mushrooms and even a helping of baked beans. In addition to these traditional choices the English also feature some of their own favorites including fried bread, marmalade and of course tea. The fried bread, instead of toasted bread, is often cooked to a crusty golden brown in the same pans where the meats and eggs are made. Up to two tablespoons of oil or lard can be used to fry up each slice of bread so be prepared for a greasy treat. Marmalade is a sweet English staple made from citrus fruit that includes the peel. The inclusion of the peel is what separates marmalade from standard jams and jellies. The English have long favored marmalade made from oranges grown in the Seville region of Spain. These delicious Spanish oranges have a high pectin content that makes them a good choice for a spread. Going as far back as to the 1700’s the English have had themselves quiet a love affair with tea. The British Empire spread tea from China to its colony in India and back to Great Britain. This global trade helped tea become one of the most popular drinks in the world. Tea is not a strange choice for breakfast, but you might want to go easy on the sausages and fried bread.
5. Rise And Shine In Japan
You’d probably be hard pressed to tell the difference between the average Japanese breakfast and the average Japanese lunch and dinner. But if you really love tofu and fish this won’t be a problem for you. Familiar Japanese foods like rice, fish and Miso soup are traditionally included on their breakfast menus. Miso soup has been a popular part of meals in Japanese cooking and its broth is made from seaweed and dried fish flakes. Tsukemono or Japanese pickles are also a common choice for breakfast on the island nation. Tofu, made from pressed soy bean curds, is a staple of Japanese cuisine so not surprisingly it is often a part of a Japanese breakfast as well. A small block of firm tofu, often served cold, is garnished with a number of toppings including ginger, green onions and fish flakes. Roasted Salmon is a popular choice to pair with the tofu for complete breakfast. A bonito, also referred to as dash, is a traditional Japanese soup stock made from the bonito fish. This hearty broth is often used to add flavor to both the roasted Salmon as well as many tofu based dishes. If you don’t think fish, rice and tofu are strange choices for breakfast than a traditional Japanese breakfast might be just what your mornings have been missing.
4. That’s All Folks
Tom Laud Moo is a savory pork blood soup. Nothing in that sentence sounds like the makings of a particularly appetizing meal let alone the first meal of the day. However, in Thailand Tom Laud Moo continues to be a common breakfast dish served at home and in restaurants around the country. The main ingredients are marinated pork, soft boiled pork blood and lettuce. This is considered a hearty, high protein meal that is a very popular choice in the cool months. While the appeal of hot broth in chilly weather is completely understandable, the appeal of soft boiled pork blood is less clear to me. The Tom Laud Moo recipes can be flavored with a number of spices including fried garlic and spring onion. But if a savory pork blood soup isn’t your style in the morning perhaps a Chinese influenced Thai doughnut will doesn’t seem as strange. This type of doughnut is called a Patango and Thais like to dip these little fried pastries in condensed milk to give them a sweeter taste. Like doughnuts in the West, these Thai breakfast pastries are enjoyed hot and dunked in a cup of your steaming morning coffee. There you have it: Doughnuts or pork blood soup.
3. Wurst Breakfast
There seems to be a trend in these strange breakfast foods: meat – and the fattier and saltier the better. If this kind of whets your morning appetite than German breakfasts are probably for you. Like lunch and dinner in Germany, breakfast often features a selection of hearty wursts or sausages. The sausages come in many sizes, shapes, colors and flavors depending on what they’re made from. The famous Nuremberger Rib Steak sausages, for example, are a scalded wurst made from pork and spiced with marjoram. These relatively small sausages can be served at any meal, but for many Germans Nuremberger sausages are a popular choice for breakfast. Breakfast sausages are usually served with some form of potatoes such as a fried potato hash. Frankfurters, what many people call franks or hot dogs, are another popular breakfast sausage in Germany. These skinny pork wursts are usually served with a spicy mustard for dipping and a side of potato salad. Germans are known for their hearty appetites, but all this sausage and potatoes seems a bit heavy. So, are hot dogs really a good choice for breakfast? It might sound like dorm room hang-over food to many of us. However, if you are in the mood for a meaty breakfast with plenty of spice than German wursts might be a tasty and strange choice for you.
2. Siri, What’s For Breakfast?
Siri Paya, which means head and legs in the Urdu language, is a traditional stew in Pakistan. This hearty meal is one of the most popular breakfast dishes in the country. This strange breakfast food, as you probably guessed, is made from the feet and head of animals. Depending on what’s available, a combination of goat, beef and lamb is used in most recipes. In this case using the head means scooping the brain out of the skull and boiling the organ. The skull and the feet are cooked together in another pot of water for at least four to five hours. This process results in a hearty, meaty broth. Four hours is close to the minimum time you would let this kind of broth cook. Many people prefer to leave it simmering all night because the extended cooking time brings out the flavors even more. Masala, a mixture of curry, coriander, black pepper, cumin and ginger is a staple in much of Pakistani and Indian cooking. Yogurt is usually combined with the spice mix to make a creamy sauce. The thick orange sauce is mixed with the assorted animal parts and allowed to simmer. The dish is flavored with a combination of onion, ginger, green chiles and lemon. Siri Paya is a rich, nutritious meal eaten by large numbers of people every day, but it’s also a strange breakfast.
1. Smuts For Breakfast
Ustilago maydis or Corn Smut is a plant fungus that attacks corn crops. In Mexico the resulting delicacy is known as huitlacoche. Modern Mexicans adopted this strange breakfast food from the ancient Aztec civilization that ruled the region before the Spanish Conquistadors arrived in the early 16th century. What exactly is Huitlacoche? It is a tumor-like structure that forms on the growing corn kernels. The tumors are called galls. The galls are often described as mushroom-like and include blue-black spores. Are you getting hungry yet? Mexicans harvest the blackish-gray galls from the infected corn and use them as a filling in quesadillas, tamales as well as in soup recipes and sauces. Although the United States government has worked to eradicate Corn Smut in American crops, because it is a form of blight. The U.S. has allowed a limited program of Huitlacoche cultivation that started back in the 1990’s. Efforts have been made to improve the delicacie’s reputation outside of Mexico by referring to the fungus as the Mexican truffle. On the plus side Huitlacoche is a little bit higher in protein then regular corn, but I’m not sure that’s enough to overcome the negatives associated with eating a form of blight. To many of us a Huitlacoche filled quesadilla seems like a strange breakfast choice, but if you try it you might be surprised.