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Breakfast is a meal, often light, usually eaten in the morning. The name derives from the concept that you have not eaten while sleeping, i.e., you are fasting during that time, and break that fast with the meal. It is therefore a calque of the French déjeuner or petit déjeuner and the Spanish desayuno. The German Frühstück, the Danish morgenmad, the Esperanto matenmanĝo, and the Chinese zocān (早餐) meaning "morning meal."

Many nutritionists promote breakfast as a very important meal which provides vital nourishment and energy to begin the day. Studies have indicated that food eaten early in the day is less likely to contribute to fat gain than food eaten in the evening. Nevertheless, many people in the West tend to neglect breakfast or skip it entirely.



Chinese breakfasts typically include rice congee/jook, and youtiao. Soy milk, sweetened or savory, is used as a dip for the fritters. Street vendors also offer a wide variety of hot foods, often deep-fried. Items commonly sold are jian bing (fried pancakes), baozi (steamed dumplings), gao (rice cake), zongzi, noodles and soups. The dim sum breakfast is a world in itself, and is often eaten as a type of brunch.

In Korea breakfast has not existed as a distinct concept. Food eaten in the morning does differ substantially from the other meals of the day. Kimchi (a mixture of fermented vegetables) and rice are staples of the morning meal.

In Malaysia breakfast sometimes consists of a popular Malay food called Nasi Lemak. Other food such as Roti canai and Wantan Noodle are also among the favorites.

In countries such as Thailand, Viet Nam and Cambodia, it is customary to eat soup for breakfast, as well as congee. Street eateries in Bangkok offer a variety of different soups.

In the cities of Burma the traditional breakfast is Chapati or Naan (Indian style flat breads) dipped in sweet-milk (home-made sweet condensed milk).

In most of South India, the most popular breakfast includes a variety of possible dishes, such as idlis, vadas, dosas and chapatis. They are usually served with hot sambar and at least one kind of chutney (usually coconut chutney). Breakfast is usually followed by a glass of tea or coffee, both with milk and sugar. Pongal is a common breakfast item in Tamil Nadu, while uppittu and kesaribath are the common items in Karnataka.

The usual North Indian breakfast consists of chapatis or parathas with a vegetable curry, and sweets like kaju burfi.

A traditional Japanese breakfast includes items like miso soup, rice with nori or other garnishes, natto, grilled fish, the rolled omelette tamagoyaki, and a pickled vegetable. Western breakfast foods may be eaten. However, the influence of Japanese travelers has made the traditional breakfast a standard option on the menus of many upscale hotels world-wide.


Australia has a unique spread called Vegemite that is routinely smeared on toast for breakfast. It is similar to a popular British spread called Marmite, but has very few followers outside of Australia other than expatriates. With the typically warmer weather in most parts of Australia, breakfast is generally light consisting of cereals, toast, fruit and fruit juice rather than cooked breakfasts.

British Isles

Traditionally, Britons would add tomatoes, mushrooms, black pudding, crumpets, porridge, and fish to the standard U.S./Canadian combination of eggs and bacon - see Full English breakfast. Eating a full English breakfast daily is, however, now rare, and most opt for cereal or toast.

The Irish would include white pudding, soda bread, and in Ulster, soda farls and potato farls; see Irish breakfast.

British imperial experience in India introduced kedgeree to the breakfast buffet in grander households.


What is known in hotels world-wide as the European "Continental" breakfast is scarcely more than a snack to tide one over until lunch. It is relatively simple, based on bread, butter and milk. This meal is more typically a Southern European tradition (Italy, France, Spain) than truly a continental one. Elsewhere in Europe, breakfasts tend to be more substantial.

In France a typical domestic breakfast will consist of bowls (rather than cups or mugs) of coffee, often caf au lait, or hot chocolate with tartines – slices of baguette spread with jam – to be dunked. Croissants are also traditional.

In Italy, prima colazione is simply Caff e latte with bread or rolls, butter, and jam.

A distinctive breakfast of Europe is the Madrid early-morning (post-late night) fare of chocolate y churros – the standard extremely thick, hot and sweet chocolate with fritters.

Yoghurt or, especially in central and eastern Europe, kefir may be consumed.

A traditional Dutch breakfast consists of poached eggs and ham, served on toast and topped with cheese. Today, those people that eat breakfast at all typically eat sliced bread topped with e.g. cheese, ham or something sweet like jam or the typically Dutch "hagelslag". Rusk is also popular, cereals less so. Tea, coffee, milk and juice are the most popular breakfast beverages.

The typical German breakfast consists of bread rolls or toast with butter, honey, jam, ham or sausage, a soft boiled egg, and coffee. However, cereals have become popular, and regional variation is significant.

A typical breakfast in Denmark, similar to its southern neighbor Germany, consists of bread rolls or toast with butter and Danish skreost (slicing cheese), a buttery creamy white cheese (often Danish havarti or Danish tilsit), fruit jam, and a lot of coffee. A bigger and fancier spread would include ham or sausages, soft-boiled eggs, muesli and sweet rolls of all types. Danish workers typically start their Friday mornings with "breakfast meetings".

Breakfasts in other parts of Scandinavia may be quite ample. Fish, cheese, eggs, bacon, hot and cold cereals, breads, potatoes, and fruits are all eaten in various combinations, along with juices, coffee and tea. Filmjlk, a soured milk similar to buttermilk or yoghurt is often used on cereals. Whole-grain porridges are popular in Finland, also accompanied by this type of soured milk.

In Eastern European countries with similarly colder climates, such as Russia, breakfasts tend to be more substantial as well. Zavtrak may consist of hot oatmeal or kasha, eggs, cheese, cured meats or sausage, rye breads with butter, and coffee or tea.

Hotels and other types of lodging in Europe typically include breakfast in their rates, and in many cases, especially in larger hotels, it consists of a breakfast buffet. Specific items will vary from country to country, depending on local breakfast tastes and habits. In Switzerland, for example, "luncheon meats", cheese, yoghurt, prepared fruit, butter, croissants, breads and rolls are served. Regardless of location the standard requirements for a British breakfast (eggs, potatoes, sausage, tomatoes, mushrooms) are often a part of the buffet.

Latin America

Latin American breakfasts feature many items seen in North American and Continental European breakfasts in regional variations. Maize-based breads such as tortillas or arepas may predominate, or be augmented with wheat breads or pastries. Coffee, chocolate and tea are usually taken with milk.

In the past, when Mexico's population was predominantly rural and agricultural, breakfast tradition included a light desayuno of hot beverages and breads at dawn, and a heavier almuerzo mid-morning, with egg dishes such as huevos rancheros, meats, beans, tortillas, pastries, and fruits. Today almuerzo generally means lunch, and the Mexican breakfast may be the lighter or heavier version, depending on the person and/or the occasion. Menudo, a tripe stew considered a folk remedy for a hangover, has become a breakfast dish as well as one eaten at other meals.

Middle East

In most Arab areas, the most popular breakfast by far is Pitta bread dipped in rich Labnah, a type of creamy curd, with olive oil and Za'atar (a common Middle-Eastern spice).

In Egypt, the traditional breakfast is Ful Madamis: Slow cooked Egyptian Ful Beans (and sometimes lentils too), dressed in olive oil, lemon juice and garlic.

In Israel, a typical Israeli breakfast will include eggs (hard-boiled, soft-boiled, fried or omelette), fresh bread, cheese (usually some kind of soft white cheese, most often fine Israeli cottage cheese), sliced vegetables or Israeli salad and olives. Preferred drinks include coffee or tea and orange juice. While this is the traditional breakfast (and is served in many restaurants in the morning), nowadays most people will have a bowl of cereal and a cup of coffee before rushing off to work.

Similarly, in Turkey a standard breakfast is comprised of white cheese, tomatoes, black olives, bread with honey or preserves, and an egg.

U.S. and Canada

Traditional breakfasts may feature such foods as cold breakfast cereals, hot oatmeal, grits, and other grain porridges; eggs; bacon, ham or sausages; pan-fried potatoes (hash browns); toast, pancakes, waffles, French toast, cornbread, English muffins, bagels (often with cream cheese), pastries such as croissants, doughnuts and muffins; yoghurt and fruit. Orange juice is a standard breakfast beverage, along with coffee, tea, milk, and other fruit juices. Caffeinated carbonated beverages are occasionally substituted for these. Eating cold pizza left over from the night before has become something of a breakfast tradition, although with the advent of the microwave oven, it no longer need be cold.

Different regions of the U.S. have certain breakfast specialties that may be less popular nationally. In the South, liver and grits are one traditional breakfast food; the Southwest has huevos rancheros; scrapple is a favorite in the Mid-Atlantic states; and New Englanders still occasionally indulge in fried salt-pork, and pie. Sausages also vary in popularity regionally, such as linguia in southern New England, andouille in Louisiana, chorizo in the Southwest, et al.

A worker's breakfast may include coffee and a prepared food purchased on the way to work or brought from home. Alternative food items that fit this "eat-on-the-go" strategy include the various breakfast breads and pastries, sweetened flavored yoghurt cups, fresh fruit, granola or "energy" bars, toaster pastries such as Pop-Tarts and instant oatmeal. Fast-food restaurants offer breakfasts-to-go in the form of breakfast sandwiches of filled croissants or muffins, and breakfast burritos or tacos. These fillings are typically based on eggs and/or cheese, with other additions like meat or beans.

A typical combination of food for a "hearty" breakfast would be eggs, one type of meat and one or two starchy dishes; commonly hash browns and toast. A more basic breakfast combination would be a starchy food (such as toast, pastry, cereal, porridge or pancakes) either alone or served with fruit and/or yoghurt. This second option, similar to the Continental breakfasts served in Europe, is especially common in situations where serving hot food is difficult, expensive or impractical.

Etymological information

Template:Ll: 1463, from break (v.) + fast (n.). Cf. Fr. djeuner "to breakfast," from L. dis-jejunare "to break the fast." The verb is from 1679. The Sp. almuerzo "breakfast" is from L. admorsus, pp. of admordere "to bite into," from ad- "to" + mordere "to bite."


Common beverages include fruit juices, milk, tea, and coffee.


Some restaurants devote themselves to breakfast or have special breakfast menus. The field is dominated on one hand by greasy spoons, diners, cafs, cafeterias, and fast food places, and on the other hand by hotels. However, some breakfast places resemble standard restaurants in procedure, selection, and price.

Special occasions

Breakfast is occasionally served as an entertainment meal. More popular than breakfast in this regard, however, is brunch.

The serving of a pancake breakfast is traditional on Pancake Day (Shrove Tuesday), and some celebrate a festive breakfast on Christmas morning.

During Ramadan, Muslims describe the meal after sunset that breaks the fast as (Iftar).

See also


External links

es:Desayuno fr:Petit-djeuner he:ארוחת בוקר ja:朝食 nl:ontbijt pl:Śniadanie zh:早餐


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