I Broke Breakfast
May 15, 2019 10:10 AM   Subscribe

Americans eat a narrower variety of foods for breakfast than anyone else. It doesn’t have to be this way.

There’s no good reason you can’t eat a chicken-parmesan hoagie for breakfast. That’s what I decided last year when I woke up one morning, hungover and ravenous, craving the sandwich’s very specific combination of fried chicken cutlet, melted mozzarella, and tomato sauce. “Breakfast food,” as a category, suddenly felt like my middle school’s dress code: unnecessarily prim and preordained by people whose rules I should no longer heed.

posted by poffin boffin (110 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
for me it's really the cart driving the horse; I like bagels but don't think bagels are appropriate for dinner.
posted by Jon_Evil at 10:14 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


You know what the best breakfast is made of? Leftovers. Spaghetti, pork chops, barbeque, bean salad, stewed chicken, pasta casserole, and enchiladas have all graced my breakfast plate this year. Not at the same meal, of course.
posted by Midnight Skulker at 10:16 AM on May 15 [29 favorites]


I used to have salads for breakfast, maybe I'll have that again.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:21 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Leftover caesar salad? Where the lettuce is just beginning to soften and the dressing is ice-cold from being in the fridge all night? With a lil glass of leftover red that's been oxidizing at room temp all night? Ohhhhhhhhh baby
posted by Greg Nog at 10:22 AM on May 15 [12 favorites]


This is something I never got, those rules about what food gets eaten when. I've always thought that food is food - eat what you like when you want. I regularly eat soup or leftovers for breakfast, oatmeal for lunch, waffles for supper, cereal as a late night snack. It is very liberating.
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:24 AM on May 15 [16 favorites]


I just returned from Britain, where my breakfasts all included a heap of beans. Mmmmmm.
posted by Abehammerb Lincoln at 10:28 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


it comes from centuries of the dreaded shrill censorious parental scream of YOU'LL RUIN YOUR DINNER! when you innocently reach for a toaster waffle at 5pm
posted by poffin boffin at 10:29 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I like that breakfast is internalized in the US to be a limited number of foods. That way you feel like a rebel when you eat cold pizza in the morning! You feel alive. It's not quite breakfast, not quite lunch - it's a good meal!
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:33 AM on May 15 [8 favorites]


I despise breakfast cereal, have since I was forced to eat it daily as a toddler. As soon as I left home at 18 I promised myself to never eat it again. To this day, in my fifth decade, I continue to live by this vow. Fortunately, I found a wonderful person who feels the same way. This may or may not have been a significant factor for me in our early days.

My reasons are my own; no judgement implied or made. But my food is not fuel, and I refuse to be ashamed of wanting to enjoy it. I only get one crack at this life and I want to make it count.

We make a lot of our own breakfast foods, from sausages to bacon to smoked fish to blood pudding. There's a comfort to bread pudding and apple syrup or a dutch baby popover or shaksuka that a dry bowl of flakes made soggy with cold milk just can't provide me.
posted by bonehead at 10:34 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


For me it's more about ease than any restrictive covenant. I'm much more likely to spend 45+ minutes on dinner than breakfast. Eggs are quick, bacon easy to bake, parfait is just two things stirred together. I rarely want simple for dinner and rarely want complex for breakfast.
posted by Carillon at 10:35 AM on May 15 [10 favorites]


One of the best parts of traveling in asia is having noodles for breakfast all the time!
posted by Grither at 10:37 AM on May 15 [17 favorites]


Other than mimosas, there's no such thing as a "breakfast food".
posted by betweenthebars at 10:40 AM on May 15 [7 favorites]


For a while in high school, cooked and ate a baked potato for breakfast every morning. I think I had butter on it, often cold salsa but rarely cheese. I'm not sure why I settled on a baked potato, but it was warm and filling, which is enough, I guess.
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 10:41 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


The online magazine Roads & Kingdoms has a long-running series of short articles on breakfasts around the world.


posted by ElleElle at 10:46 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


For me it's more about ease than any restrictive covenant. I'm much more likely to spend 45+ minutes on dinner than breakfast. Eggs are quick, bacon easy to bake, parfait is just two things stirred together. I rarely want simple for dinner and rarely want complex for breakfast.
It's very much this for me, although I also cannot eat a large meal for breakfast or I feel greasy and nauseated all day (regardless of what the meal actually was). So it's cereal, toast, or a piece of fruit, or I don't eat anything until lunch.
posted by Fish Sauce at 10:46 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


If the absence of any hint of this:
Bernays got a doctor to agree that a protein-rich, heavy breakfast of bacon and eggs was healthier than a light breakfast, and then sent that statement to around 5,000 doctors for their signatures. He then got newspapers to publish the results of his petition as if it was a scientific study, explains Carroll. That brought bacon and eggs back into fashion and added more weight to the idea that breakfast was not only very important but medically recommended.

quickly gotten from a Googled Guardian article makes me feel like this article is a little lightweight.

(I am assuming that anybody reading Meta Filter knows who Edward Bernays was.)

Also a fun read with regard to cereal, Kellog, Post etc. is The Road to Wellville
posted by Pembquist at 10:47 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


For me it's more about ease than any restrictive covenant.

Yeah, this is my view. Amusingly, it's resulted in flipping breakfast and dinner since I've worked at home: I make something big and complicated early in the day, but in the evening it's just toast or oatmeal or something.
posted by mordax at 10:49 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I do love American breakfast food, because it's salty and fatty and sugary and delicious.

But that shit'll kill you. Just because it's normal and socially permissible to eat garbage in the mornings doesn't mean it's any better for you. The normal laws of nutrition and physiology don't get suspended just because it's before 9 am.

So I've taken to eating whatever I want in the mornings. This often includes vegetables, because there's no reason you can't have vegetables for breakfast, and most of us should be eating more vegetables.

I still eat a salty, fatty, sugary garbage breakfast on occasion, because see above re: delicious.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:03 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


(Soup is also delicious for breakfast.)
posted by escape from the potato planet at 11:04 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


this country will kill me a lot faster than bacon will
posted by poffin boffin at 11:05 AM on May 15 [50 favorites]


[stuffing 14 pounds of frozen bacon into a t-shirt cannon]
posted by Greg Nog at 11:06 AM on May 15 [12 favorites]


Heck that "Time for Timer" dude in the early 80s said you could eat anything for breakfast. This was that little yellow dude that you probably always thought was on Schoolhouse Rock but wasn't, and appeared in a bunch of nutrition-and-eating PSAs (y'all MUST have heard of the "hanker for a hunk of cheese" one).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:09 AM on May 15 [18 favorites]


I can recommend - especially if it's one of those days when you've woken up mystifyingly early and can't get back to sleep - baking a cake for breakfast.
posted by scruss at 11:10 AM on May 15 [12 favorites]


I was in Hong Kong a couple of weeks ago and the hotel we stayed at had the breakfast of my dreams. Covered so many different cultural bases. Utterly spoiled me for breakfast henceforth.
posted by gaspode at 11:10 AM on May 15 [6 favorites]


>Americans eat a narrower variety of foods for breakfast than anyone else.

Are we ignoring the Dutch for some reason?
posted by humboldt32 at 11:11 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Eat breakfast, mostly hoagies, not too much.
posted by Drastic at 11:16 AM on May 15 [25 favorites]


I have generally been an "I'll eat what I want" type regarding breakfast for a long time, but once I was introduced to the structure of traditional Japanese breakfast I got more creative and started eating more vegetables. I don't eat that many carbs so it's not rice-centric for me, but quick fish or other protein, vegetables both cooked and pickled, a little miso soup, really satisfies a craving for "hot breakfast" when I'm not really feeling eggs or leftovers.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:20 AM on May 15 [4 favorites]


>Are we ignoring the Dutch for some reason?

Seriously. A slice of bread with chocolate sprinkles is the ubiquitous breakfast there. A full aisle in the supermarket for chocolate sprinkles of various kinds. Confusing times.
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 11:22 AM on May 15 [9 favorites]


I usually make a big smoothie in the morning, then nurse it up to, and sometime through lunchtime. That usually stays me pretty well, but sometimes I just prefer some carrots and celery around 10am.
posted by slogger at 11:26 AM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Leftovers are the best breakfast.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 11:28 AM on May 15 [5 favorites]


Are we ignoring the Dutch for some reason?

They know what they did.
posted by webmutant at 11:52 AM on May 15 [23 favorites]


I thought that breakfast options are what they are because for many people when your tummy is just waking up it doesn't like to handle anything too complicated, which makes sense in theory but in practice not really.

In the movie Cold Mountain there's a scene where Nicole Kidman's character eats a single cold carrot for breakfast and that kind of blew my mind. I think about that every time I have a Starbucks PBJ box for breakfast (which has carrots, cucumbers, ranch dip, cheese, apples, raisins, & half a PBJ, which to me is the perfect combination and quantity of foods for any time of day).

I think in a lot of mainstream American culture our whole relationship with food is fucked up beyond all recognition so it's no surprise that the first meal of the day is also a time of artificially limited & bad options, just like every other meal.
posted by bleep at 11:54 AM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I came late to eating eggs, and until my mid 40s, I hadn't found an oatmeal that I could stomach. Add in a mild milk allergy, and traditional fast American breakfast foods were always a struggle for me. As soon as I was permitted to cook, I started making hamburger patties for breakfast. Before that, I ate tuna salad sandwiches for breakfast, because I was making my lunch for school and I really liked them. In high school, I discovered the glory of the local quick mart's pork tenderloin biscuit and a Coke.

By college, I'd just given up on the whole idea of breakfast because it was too damn much work. Then a boyfriend introduced me to Wake N' Bake at Cracker Barrel and breakfast became a thing I loved. Now, when no one else is around, I'll have scrambled eggs and toast for dinner and my husband knows brinner is the way to compensate for a shitty day.

But I still struggle with eating food shortly after I wake up. Regardless of what it is.
posted by teleri025 at 11:57 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


YES. My ex used to give me a weird look for boiling up some breakfast potatoes.

Can't beat breakfast potatoes.
posted by AllShoesNoSocks at 11:57 AM on May 15 [3 favorites]


The Dutch, and the Italians. I don't recall ever eating anything savory for breakfast in Italy. Coffee and cornetti every day at the school I went to or a bar down the street. But a lot of people just seemed to get up and go, no meal until a coffee break. Something similar in Greece, although Greek yogurt makes everything better.
posted by BibiRose at 12:01 PM on May 15


Bah.

Your attempts to breakfast-shame me are to no avail. I will continue to consume an espresso and half a cup of plain high-fat yogurt for breakfast every day except Saturday.

On Saturday there are no breakfast rules.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:01 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I'm with the people above who prefer something easy/convenient for breakfast. In my case that winds up being breakfast burritos that I make in batches and then freeze.

In the past it has been Shin Ramyun with microwaved fish on top (options are few at a seafood wholesaler workin the morning shift), a hastily unwrapped piece of day old cake (ditto when working at a bakery producing the things other people have for breakfast), whiskey and cigarettes, etc etc

I should add that I'm one of those people that takes a long time to get tired of eating something so the ramen+seafood combo is something I literally ate six days a week for some years. I still miss having that, it's one of those things that you can't really replicate at home very easily
posted by pagrus at 12:01 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


My dad has consumed nothing but two full pots of over-extracted coffee every weekday between arising at 6:00 AM and maybe 2:00-ish in the afternoon, when he goes home for a sammich and a couple of cookies. For like fifty-plus years. He's whippet thin, so yay, but...like...not even a little somethin' now and then?
posted by wenestvedt at 12:05 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


> my husband knows brinner is the way to compensate for a shitty day

Indeed. If she's had a tough day, one of the best things I can do is scramble some eggs.
posted by bonehead at 12:08 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I like everything for breakfast, from the Italian style coffee and cornetto to a full English, or Japanese or whatever. All except breakfast cereal, which is disgusting and also gives me a headache. When I was little, I ate it and enjoyed it, until I realized that those headaches didn't happen on Sundays when my stepdad loved preparing an elaborate full English breakfast. Then I began associating the malty sugary sogginess with headaches.
posted by mumimor at 12:11 PM on May 15


personally, i like korean breakfasts

which are just the same thing as korean dinners. maybe you put out a few less banchan and toss beans into the rice cooker, but.
posted by anem0ne at 12:12 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Porridge is the only breakfast. Unless you are hungover, then there are no rules.
posted by Termite at 12:18 PM on May 15


The only acceptable use for breakfast cereal is mixing it with melted butter and marshmallows, gingerly patting it into a pan, and then digging in with both hands when it's cool enough.

My weekday breakfast is coffee and full-fat Greek yogurt and homemade granola. On the weekends I make toast with egg salad or fried eggs or avocado, with--and this is key--nutritional yeast, furikake, and a sprinkle of crystalized lemon juice/lemon pepper. This is my holy trinity of seasonings and I will not apologize.
posted by esoterrica at 12:27 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


It's also okay to not eat breakfast at all.
posted by Poldo at 12:31 PM on May 15 [10 favorites]


I have a tiny bit to add to the article that I just read about in The Visible Hand: Breakfast cereals were one of the first finished products that machines were able to produce at high speeds. Breakfast cereal machines were invented not long after the first high-volume cigarette machines.

Because they could be created at such high volume, and railroad networks were newly available to distribute them at high volume, the cigarette and cereal makers were among the first producers to create their own nation-wide distribution and advertising networks instead of using the traditional, and much slower, merchant-to-merchant-to-merchant networks. They had tons of product to push, something that existing systems weren't set up for, so they had to push the product themselves.
posted by clawsoon at 12:53 PM on May 15 [13 favorites]


(Also from The Visible Hand: Oat-processing machines made a bigger difference in the world of oats than wheat-processing machines made in the world of already-used-for-everything wheat, which is why a disproportionate number of hot and cold cereals feature oats.)
posted by clawsoon at 12:55 PM on May 15 [8 favorites]


The only acceptable use for breakfast cereal is mixing it with melted butter and marshmallows, gingerly patting it into a pan, and then digging in with both hands when it's cool enough.

My stoner friend blew my mind one time when he pointed out you could make Rice Krispie Squares with any breakfast cereal.
posted by Celsius1414 at 12:57 PM on May 15 [12 favorites]


“I’m not even going to start on the idea of eating a hamburger at 7:00 in the morning. The idea is you eat eggs, which are kind of a latent form, as your body is itself awakening. It makes a lot of sense. Because you are the food, and you’re supposed to eat stuff that’s nice to you.” - David Foster Wallace, quoted by David Lipsky
posted by crazy_yeti at 12:58 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Omelettes, frittatas, egg/hasbrown casseroles and even egg sandwiches/buns...

For DINNER... or lunch or breakfast... Ice cold pizza for breakfast, yummy leftover ice-cold salad for breakfast.
posted by jkaczor at 1:00 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Just because it's normal and socially permissible to eat garbage in the mornings doesn't mean it's any better for you. The normal laws of nutrition and physiology don't get suspended just because it's before 9 am.

The thing is, I never thought they were? I eat garbage in the mornings because otherwise I will never get out of bed. Life is too relentlessly godawful to be faced without a muffin and coffee.
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 1:06 PM on May 15 [11 favorites]


What, 50 comments before someone mentions pancakes? What happened to this site?

Traditional (American) breakfasts must be made in relative haste, thus based upon ingredients that require little time for such fineries as yeasted leavening, long-and-slow cooking and the like. Plus must provide sustenance for hours of labor before a proper evening meal. American pancakes, biscuits, cornbread and the like all utilize fast-acting chemical leavening, and bacon and eggs fry up in no time. Oatmeal simmers for five minutes or so.
posted by St. Oops at 1:08 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


If I tried to eat anything aside from cold cereal or muffins or MAYBE a hard-boiled egg before 9:00am, I would throw up. I WANT to eat yummy things like leftover meatloaf and mashed potatoes and chicken parm sandwiches and cold pizza. But if I try, bad things happen. Bad things that shouldn't happen that early in the morning. I really can't stomach savory foods in general until lunch time.

Feel sorry for me, is what I'm saying.
posted by cooker girl at 1:26 PM on May 15 [5 favorites]


I started eating "lunch" for breakfast in the 1970s, when I was traveling around the US and working at night, so would sleep late and not arrive at the local diner until after they'd stopped serving breakfast. I could never see what was wrong with making the first meal of the day meatloaf and mashed potatoes or a turkey club.

wg
posted by wendyg at 1:38 PM on May 15




Yeah I don't know if it's a palate thing as much as a time-constrained thing. The popular breakfasts in the US have in common a certain ease of preparation, high calorie density, and generally ease of cleanup.

A bowl of cereal is sort of the ideal from an ease of preparation and cleanup perspective, so no wonder why it's really common. One bowl, one spoon, two ingredients. Heck if you drink coffee with milk in it, you've already got the milk out of the fridge, and you can reuse the spoon you stirred your coffee with. (Of course, if you are drinking your coffee with milk in it and not cream, I'm just gonna assume you're in at least the 4th circle of Hell, and have bigger problems than washing multiple spoons.)

When you remove the preparation-time and cleanup-time constraints, American breakfasts become more varied; many diners have a more varied menu for breakfast than at any other meal. At my local greasy-spoon place, you can get everything from bagel-and-lox to bacon/egg/cheese sandwiches, omelettes, corned beef hash, pancakes with various toppings (mostly sweet), steak n' eggs, burgers (with an egg on them!), parfaits (admittedly this is fairly new), or fruit salad. Sweet? Sure. Savory? Sure. Meat-centric? If you want.

There are a whole bunch of foods that you really only get at breakfast in the US. Omelettes, for instance. There's no reason why you can't have an omelette for dinner, and the story I've heard of their origin claims one was served to Napoleon for dinner because the cook had run out of flour for crepes, and he loved it and popularized it. (I find various parts of this story suspect, but wikipedia does more or less retell it.) Crepes themselves are considered a breakfast thing in the US, too. Pancakes are a breakfast food in the US, but similar recipes in other countries aren't.

Anyway, it seems like it's really "dinner food" in the US that's oddly restrictive; if you have pancakes at dinner in the US, you're taking a clear stand against the fascism of your elders and their no-pancakes-for-dinner ways. It's a statement of sorts, definitely not the default.

With the exception of fish—which I'm curious about, but maybe it has to do with pre-refrigeration fish being eaten on the same day it's caught, so typically not available for the start of the day?—I can't think of many foods that aren't in some way represented at breakfast.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:51 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Smoked fish is super common for breakfast in many parts of Europe, and many of those traditions still hold in their North American descendants.

Smoked trout is 100% sustainable, low-carbon footprint, pretty easy to make and keeps well. It's delicious on bagels with schmeer.
posted by bonehead at 1:57 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I always liked a nice kipper for breakfast, but I have not lived anywhere where kippers are readily available for a long time.
posted by Quinbus Flestrin at 2:12 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Yeah this article seems a bit culturally myopic. I'm not convinced that the mainstream American breakfast is more narrow or restricted than its counterpart in France or Germany, let alone the Netherlands.
posted by crazy with stars at 2:37 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


My stoner friend blew my mind one time when he pointed out you could make Rice Krispie Squares with any breakfast cereal.

My mother-in-law would also save up all the detritus from the bottom of all the various cereals in the household and reuse them as mutant "Rice Krispie Squares". If they seemed crumbly you just add more marshmallows and/or chocolate to hold it together.
posted by Ashwagandha at 2:47 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


All foods are breakfast foods and breakfast food should be available at all times.
posted by eyeofthetiger at 2:47 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Hershey bar with almonds. Breakfast of champions.
posted by Mchelly at 2:54 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


as somebody who was put on this planet with an appreciation for pretty much all food except eggs and porridge, this discussion is long f***ing overdue.
posted by philip-random at 3:04 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]




I travel to Europe for work occasionally and breakfast is usually a highlight: great bread, fresh juice and fruit, yogurt, müesli. Whenever I came back home, I would vow to maintain it as a habit but after a few weeks would slowly drift back into bagels/cereal.

Until that is, I found my new go-to breakfast: A decent slice of toasted baguette, layered with a smashed avocado, a drizzle of olive oil and the magic ingredient: Trader Joe's Umami blend. I have this about 3 days a week.
posted by jeremias at 4:01 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I'll never forget a friend of mine once saying, "I love Christmas! Do you know what I had for breakfast this morning? Trifle!"
posted by Samarium at 4:07 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


A proper Sunday morning breakfast, where there’s no rush out the door, and there’s *time* to make something good...

It’s one of my great pleasures in life. Mrs. Ghidorah, though, doesn’t usually eat breakfast, and there are no Ghidorlings to cook for, and the absurdity of making biscuits and gravy for one, or a single stack of pancakes is not list on me. That, and having worked weekends the last few years meant it just wasn’t possible, for the most part. That, and living in Japan, a country with an utter lack of “eating breakfast outside of home” culture* means when I go back to the states to visit, a visit to a proper diner that serves a good breakfast is essential.

*Japanese breakfast exists, and there are fast food chains like Matsuya that offer it, but it’s just not my thing. Other than that, sad rice balls from the convenience store, or some sort of bread if there’s a bakery near. Or, yeah, McDonalds. I mean, I’m glad I live here, but thereve been compromises.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:10 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Last time I was in Holland visiting relatives breakfast was a plate of cheese and salami (sliced a few minutes before we sat down), jams and other spreads like appelstrop, toasted white bread, rye bread, and - somewhat weirdly as it's not traditional - a soft boiled egg. This could be a family quirk - I'm not clear on that. Hagelslag was permitted only at the end of breakfast, rather like dessert. Granted, these were older people, and they lived on a farm, but still - all this shit about "oooh, they only eat sprinkles!!" is just weird to me.
posted by ninazer0 at 4:10 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


natto is my favourite froot loop
posted by LeviQayin at 4:43 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


Breakfast in America, especially on the road, means lots of carbs and sugars, sodium and fats. Never cared much for any traditional breakfast offerings.

There is a no-cucumber garlicky gazpacho that uses yoghurt instead of bread—and it’s my favorite warm-season breakfast. Gets all cylinders firing immediately. Unbelievably great when paired with hot spoonbread!

If I must be traditional, homemade cheese blintzes with blueberry sauce are pretty damned fine too.
posted by kinnakeet at 4:45 PM on May 15


I always liked a nice kipper for breakfast, but I have not lived anywhere where kippers are readily available for a long time.

They must have them in Texas,
'Cause everyone's a millionaire.
posted by pompomtom at 4:59 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I'm impressed at people who can assemble complicated meals for breakfast. It's all I can do to make a cup of coffee and sullenly eat a protein bar while I read the morning horrors.
posted by octothorpe at 5:19 PM on May 15 [3 favorites]


I love breakfast. I love breakfast foods. Eggs all ways (including omlettes with veggies duh), waffles or pancakes with fruit. I usually have steel cut oatmeal with fruit or whole wheat toast with peanut butter or avocado or smoked salmon but on friday mornings its leftover burrito. Soooooo good!
posted by supermedusa at 5:33 PM on May 15


On weekends the trick is to sleep in so you get up in time for early lunch.
posted by emjaybee at 6:01 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


People keep mentioning time constraints as the reason that breakfast foods are limited, but that doesn't explain why that doesn't include leftovers, reheated. Yes, lots of today's breakfast (well, brunch, nowadays) foods are recreations of leftover usage (french toast, hashes, etc), but it's clear that the idea that, when someone else is taking the time to prepare it in advance, you still have eggs or bacon or pancakes for breakfast is a *cultural* thing with little connection to practicality. Takes just as much time for McDonalds to put hash browns in the fryer as french fries.

And what we consider "simple" or "complex" to the palate is often as culturally determined. Turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes, green beans, and corn on the cob are all simple flavors compared to a Denver omelet, or huevos rancheros.
posted by pykrete jungle at 6:22 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


I grew up going to dim sum on weekend mornings. it’s probably the only time where you can eat things like chinese broccoli, pork spare ribs, porridge with thousand year old egg, pineapple buns, chicken feet, egg custard tarts, silken tofu sweetened with syrup, fried turnip cakes, fried taro cakes, shrimp dumplings, siumai , sugar cane lollipop fried shrimp, beef tripe, beef chow fun, sesame balls filled with red beans, and freakin’ jello all in a single meal and in any order and amount you desire.
posted by FJT at 7:11 PM on May 15 [9 favorites]


I like the limited palette of breakfast foods because it means you can just have something quick and easy without people judging you for not spending enough time/effort.

So, yeah, about half of this thread is a super downer for me.

Kadin2048: "if you are drinking your coffee with milk in it and not cream, I'm just gonna assume you're in at least the 4th circle of Hell"

...super, super downer for me.
posted by Bugbread at 7:55 PM on May 15


This is kinda just hot take clickbait given a veneer of sensibility by the Atlantic actually still hiring writers and editors. Yes, the predilection for cereals as breakfast has some weird roots, yes, eggs and bacon is a thing, but the idea that "Americans" have a particularly limited breakfast palate is reductive and silly and about as sophisticated as a MAGA hat.

There are a lot of fucking people in this country, and most of us are not actually WASPs.

Choice quote:
"It took the Industrial Revolution, a couple of world wars, and women’s lib to get the United States to the breakfast menus it has today, and it would likely take a similarly seismic shift to free Americans from their cereal or yogurt routines in any meaningful way."

My eyes are rolling like a Tesla on "autopilot."
posted by aspersioncast at 7:56 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


I always liked a nice kipper for breakfast,

Is it St. Swithins' Day already?
posted by We put our faith in Blast Hardcheese at 8:18 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


Smoked fish is super common for breakfast in many parts of Europe

True and good point. Although since it's preserved, maybe that furthers the theory that you don't see a ton of fresh fish at breakfast because before the advent of home refrigeration it would have been kinda... iffy..? Since it would have sat out overnight, probably.

Though there are other preserved fish dishes that I don't know if I've ever seen at breakfast. Is salt cod a breakfast dish anywhere? Maybe ceviche or something where the fish is protected from spoilage chemically..? I could see having ceviche for breakfast. (Damn now I want ceviche for breakfast.)

I found this pretty interesting (and photo laden) article about Japanese breakfast foods; one person does have boiled fish as a breakfast food. The article gives both the gender and the approximate age of each person which is doubly interesting. (See if you can guess who has the "hydrogen water and enzymes" as breakfast. Spoiler alert, not a dude.)

...super, super downer for me.

Sorry. :-\

On the bright side, there are worse circles of Hell. I mean, ones where they don't even have coffee. It's just a bunch of tired people staring at a coffeepot that never starts to drip, forever.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:22 PM on May 15


My absolute favorite breakfast is cold steak leftover from dinner the night before. This doesn't happen a whole lot, though. :D

Mostly I don't eat breakfast. But when I do (and I have no leftover steak, i.e. 360 days of the year), I ADORE salad for breakfast. And I like Cheerios pretty well, although lactose is not my friend so much now that I'm 40. (Bacon and eggs are great, but only after 10 a.m., those are brunch foods for when my stomach is awake.) Toast is good. Toast with swiss cheese melted on it is very good.

My big thing is I don't want to eat unfamiliar things for breakfast, and this is what distresses me about traveling to foreign lands. I will eat literally anything for lunch and dinner, but I cannot cope with fish for breakfast, I just cannot. I need Cheerios or a granola bar or some leftover steak or in extremis I will cope with a croissant or some crackers, and cheese. BUT DON'T MAKE ME EAT WEIRD STUFF BEFORE NOON. My stomach can only deal with the ultra familiar in the ante meridian hours!
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:32 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


Bugbread, don’t feel alone. My low-fat milk in my coffee is pretty much just what I’m looking for. Sure, cream is tasty and all, but there’s a solid difference between my coffee in the morning to get me going and a once in a while leisurely indulgence.

Besides, the cream goes in the sausage gravy, obviously.
posted by Ghidorah at 9:04 PM on May 15 [1 favorite]


ctrl-F kedgeree
ctrl-F grits
ctrl-F pozole

SUCH DEPRIVATION
posted by ivan ivanych samovar at 9:22 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


The people really gaining from this are airport restaurateurs, as far as I'm concerned.

Before noon every meat sandwich option is replaced with dirt cheap egg.
posted by smelendez at 10:13 PM on May 15


Yes for a banana, an apple, a slice of watermelon, or a cup of grapes. Or some Hawaiian sweet bread. Or cheese.
No for cereal-flavored candy, with our without milk (lactose-intolerant here).
And I don't drink my fruits and veggies. I need the fiber, not the high fructose corn syrup.
But fried eggs or an omelette in a cast-iron skillet is delightful. Boiled eggs from the fridge will do also.
posted by TrishaU at 10:20 PM on May 15


The weird part about the limited breakfast menu in the U.S. is not the practice. There are lots of places where people in practice eat the same breakfast over and over again. For my mother growing up, it was leftover rice with boiling water poured on top and some pickles, like mustard root or salted egg, every single day for years on end. But she remained able to contemplate the possibility of other breakfasts. If you decided to have a different breakfast, and could get it, nobody would raise an eyebrow. C.f. FJT's dim sum comment.

The weird part is the way some Americans have a theoretical restriction in their heads. They don't think of breakfast foods as a subset of all foods, and if you substitute between those categories they really freak out.

E.g., peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are acceptable lunch food, but only if the bread was sliced off a larger loaf. Slicing a roll in half is worthy of comment. Making the two pieces of bread individually (e.g., pancakes) will get you the entire classroom filing past you to see for themselves, because they cannot believe such a thing has happened based only on secondhand account. Pancakes are breakfast food, not lunch food.
posted by meaty shoe puppet at 10:51 PM on May 15 [2 favorites]


That, and living in Japan, a country with an utter lack of “eating breakfast outside of home” culture* means when I go back to the states to visit, a visit to a proper diner that serves a good breakfast is essential.

Sing it! When I visit my mom in New York, we make sure to go to her venerable and much-praised neighborhood diner at least once for breakfast. I have blueberry pancakes and sausage; she has bacon and coffee.
(Ghidorah, if you're ever in Osaka I will introduce you to the place that makes rice balls with warm rice from the rice cooker when you order them. My regular Sunday morning treat.)
posted by huimangm at 11:27 PM on May 15


"Time for Timer" dude

I think about that guy every time I hanker for a hunka

If I ever get married my spouse and I will do this song and dance at the ceremony
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 11:32 PM on May 15 [4 favorites]


Apart from Weetabix and Shredded Wheat, nearly every breakfast cereal is a variation on POPCORN with milk poured over. It's either a popped grain like barley or more commonly, puffed batter like CHEETOS. They can tart it up with nuts and bits of dried fruit and berries but you're still eating a bullshit snack that's deep fried and sprayed with liquid sugar.
posted by bonobothegreat at 2:10 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


bonobothegreat: "you're still eating a bullshit snack that's deep fried and sprayed with liquid sugar."

You say tomato, I say tomato, you say bullshit snack, I say delicious snack.
posted by Bugbread at 2:32 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Apart from Weetabix and Shredded Wheat, nearly every breakfast cereal is a variation on POPCORN with milk poured over.

I swear I read once that the early USA settlers sometimes would indeed eat popcorn for breakfast.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:01 AM on May 16


I don't eat breakfast at the weekend. I wouldn't during the week but have learnt from experience that I get hungry if I don't eat something around 11ish at work and function slightly better before then I eat a slice of toast.

Never eat cereal. I basically consider it a racket - classic processed food where you can charge a huge markup for something mundane.

The main thing is why would do you need to eat when you wake up. All you've done is lie down and do nothing for eight hours (sleep) - that's hardly intensive and going to generate a hunger?
posted by treblekicker at 5:20 AM on May 16


Control-f "puritan"...
"phrase not found"

Yeah, the reason USAians eat so much shitty cold cereal in milk is that we are puritans. Not necessarily in the moral prudery sense; more like we like to feel like our pain is superior.
posted by notsnot at 7:04 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Uhhh the most popular cereal in America is either Honey Nut Cheerios or regular Cheerios (it seems to depend on who is doing the counting; I'm going to guess there's a generational-gap thing going on there).

Anyway, neither of them are "deep fried".

They are basically oat pasta—in the 1940s they were originally called "CheeriOats". Oats are ground and mixed with various other ingredients, the most important of which is probably corn starch, without which the resulting dough would fall apart (unlike wheat pasta, there's no gluten in oats; it's basically impossible to make oat-flour pasta without cornstarch or xanthan gum or some other binder).

The resulting dough is extruded through a mold—again, very similar to pasta, except it's trimmed into much smaller pieces. It's then cooked under pressure. Since the recipe uses whole-grain oats, if they weren't cooked they could potentially go rancid.

Towards the end of the cooking process, the pressure is released very quickly, causing the rounds to puff up. I guess you could say this is like popcorn, in the sense that anything that puffs because of steam pressure is "like popcorn", but there's a rather significant difference in that popcorn does it because of internal steam pressure within the kernel, and getting a piece of oat pasta to do it is a bit more of a trick. This is sort of the defining characteristic of Cheerios vs. older early-20th-century breakfast cereals, and without it you'd basically have tiny pieces of hardtack. They wouldn't be inedible, but you'd probably have to soak them for a long time before they'd be very palatable (and not break your teeth).

There are some legitimate criticisms of American breakfast cereal, particularly how the very high-sugar stuff was marketed on TV to kids, and they should be viewed in the context of postwar labor-saving Machine Age society, where something that didn't require soaking or cooking was objectively superior to something that did. (And TBH if I was responsible for singlehandedly serving breakfast to an entire family, I'd damn well be excited about something that required zero effort to prepare.) I actually think that a lot of the health claims you see in early breakfast cereal advertisements are actually not so much there because of an innate interest in healthfulness on the part of Americans (I mean, this is America; the alternative breakfast probably involves bacon and white toast, basically heart disease with a side of diabetes), but to dispel any lingering guilt about serving your family something that doesn't require suffering.

And that's where I agree that America's lingering Puritan streak comes in: cereal has to be more than just a breakfast food, it has to be some sort of crazy vitamin-laden, mega-fortified, energy-packed überfood, in order to make up for the fact that it's so damn easy for Mom to serve. It's the apocryphal cake mix problem. And so you see cereals making totally unsupportable, frankly ridiculous claims, when really they are just a grain staple, not really any better or worse nutritionally from having whole-wheat toast with jam or Karo on it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:38 AM on May 16 [10 favorites]


the reason USAians eat so much shitty cold cereal in milk is that we are puritans.

And here I thought we were hedonists, eating "candy for breakfast", or so I have been loudly told by basically every European who's ever opined on the subject to me. This is in contrast to the Germans or the Swiss, who eat real cereal, unsweetened müesli, with unsweetened yogurt, like Real Adults.

So hard to keep track of what I'm doing wrong sometimes.

FWIW, the inventor of müesli, Maximilian Bircher-Benner, was basically the European version of noted party animal John Harvey Kellogg, plus or minus the latter's weird masturbation fixation.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:52 AM on May 16 [7 favorites]


Breakfast foods are superior to all other foods — a fact well established by the documentary series Parks and Recreation — which is why you can have breakfast foods for dinner but never dinner foods for breakfast. (Unless you're hungover and eating leftovers, preferably pizza.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:47 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


^ Oh, that reminds me of something that's been bugging me for years: Why isn't breakfast pizza a "thing"? It should be a thing!
posted by FJT at 10:12 AM on May 16 [2 favorites]


Smoked fish is super common for breakfast in many parts of Europe, and many of those traditions still hold in their North American descendants.

Yes, I love lox for breakfast. A VERY rich but good breakfast is sardines on brioche. Which is weird everywhere, I think, but still delicious. If there's no fish to be had, cheese is an OK replacement, though. Like maybe a grilled cheese sandwich (with anchovies, of course! haha).

Growing up (in the US), I basically had "peanut butter on [something]" for breakfast every day before school. Peanut butter on banana, peanut butter on a slice of bread, peanut butter on an Eggo waffle, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if I was feeling fancy. Cheap, filling, lots of protein.

Nowadays, I have a Slimfast for breakfast on workdays (you pour a scoop of powder into a glass of milk and stir). I chug it right before my coffee. Before, I wasn't eating breakfast, just had a couple cups of coffee until lunch at 1 or 2pm, and I don't think it was good for me. I'd be starving for lunch and just out of sorts.

Weekends were and are totally varied as far as breakfast goes, though. I love heavy, hot food first thing -- warm bread smothered with butter and/or cheese and/or fish, pizza, leftover casserole, hot sandwiches (chicken parm!), etc. I fill my stomach and then sit there nursing my coffee for another hour. The English have it right -- I just had a sausage roll for breakfast on Sunday and it was wonderful. And can't go wrong with sausage, fried tomato, beans, mushrooms, all that traditional stuff.

In the morning, I don't usually want anything sweet, or crunchy. Which rules out pancakes and cereal, I know. But when I wake up and am slowly coming to, I want to sink into some warm, gooey, rich umami goodness, not crunch my way through some cold oats! I know that's odd, but it can't be THAT odd.

But I think of eggs in particular as dinner food. A hot, quick, and pretty light meal is good for dinner, in my mind? It's easier on the stomach than heavy/rich food too late in the evening.

Anyhow, my only specific goal for my breakfast every day is to make sure it has at least a fair amount of protein in it. And it includes at least two cups of coffee, but that's a given.
posted by rue72 at 10:32 AM on May 16


Oh my god sitting there thinking and typing about all that has made me SO HUNGRY
posted by rue72 at 10:43 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


They can tart it up with nuts and bits of dried fruit and berries

metafilter: tart it up with nuts
posted by Greg Nog at 10:56 AM on May 16 [3 favorites]


Why isn't breakfast pizza a "thing"?

It is.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 11:48 AM on May 16 [1 favorite]


I can make 4-5 days' worth of breakfast congee at a time and then heat up a bowlful in the microwave in the morning. Just figured out that I could add dried mushrooms in the last fifteen minutes for extra savoriness.

I make avocado toast using store-bought guacamole because who has time to wait for avocados to ripen? I can microwave a soft boiled egg in a cup of boiling water and splash of vinegar to put on top.

About the only food you can not eat for breakfast is cold, leftover fried clams.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:47 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


About the only food you can not eat for breakfast is cold, leftover fried clams.

This daughter of New England says "that's what you think."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:53 PM on May 16 [6 favorites]


This one says she did it once and regretted it.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 1:56 PM on May 16 [3 favorites]


I have never even thought of eating salad for breakfast, that seems so weird and cold and clammy? I need a breakfast that comforts me like a little baby. Cereal doesn't really feel like real food anymore though so it's usually oatmeal or a breakfast biscuit of some kind.

I have never been a grits person, but I did have some with goat cheese in them the other day and those were goooood, so long as you didn't mind the powerful goat cheese burps later.
posted by emjaybee at 2:46 PM on May 16


Why isn't breakfast pizza a "thing"? It should be a thing!

I've totally seen it, generally in airports. But as we know, airports are lawless places where the normal rules don't apply.

Generally a "breakfast pizza" is just a regular pizza with bacon and egg on it. Though there's nothing wrong with that and I would like more breakfast pizza in the world.

I know of one place that puts french fries on their breakfast pizza. I don't know why, they just do.
posted by Kadin2048 at 4:17 PM on May 16


We eat desert for breakfast in 'Merica - so not healthy.

A little 16/8 intermittent fasting and you can skip super sugar buzz bomb cereal and just start your eating at lunchtime. There is nothing sacred about breakfast, and all that tripe about it being the most important meal of the day was most likely funded by the cereal manufacturers.
posted by caddis at 4:33 PM on May 16


Why isn't breakfast pizza a "thing"?

See: khachapuri, sometimes confusingly also called bourekas but bourekas are also something else, also maniesh. Plus shakshuka which isn't ON bread but generally served with a flatbread, netting out to a pizza-like suite of flavors plus eggs.
posted by Lyn Never at 4:57 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


Nutty Bars, 2 String Cheese and one of those bottled Lipton Black Teas (none of that fake ass lemon bullshit either. straight up black, no sweetened, nothing)

Weekends? Sausage Egg McMuffin.

Cereal? That's for dinner.
posted by symbioid at 7:28 PM on May 16 [1 favorite]


I have never even thought of eating salad for breakfast, that seems so weird and cold and clammy?

We'll frequently do a slaw, either sweet fruit or savory veg, to go with fairly typical high-protein fare. It's a really nice palate cleanser and offers a very nice accompaniment. It's better than a more traditional fruit salad of cubes in simple syrup by miles or even a kiwi cut to look like a swan (which, you know is nice too but only in season). But then we're weirdos that sometimes prefer the vegetables to the protein.
posted by bonehead at 1:42 PM on May 17


This couldn't have come at a more optimum time.

I have just returned from spending a month with a friend and she continually told me how abnormal and unhealthy my breakfast choices were. I've found my stomach and body works best with some vegetables and protein for breakfast. I actually like breakfast food, but not first thing. Oatmeal is great for a mid-afternoon snack, and weetbix with peanut butter makes a great suppertime treat.
posted by daybeforetheday at 9:00 PM on May 17


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