Breakfast Warms The Heart


March 01, 2018

by Erin Riddell

Erin reminisces breakfasts she’s tasted around the world, and marvels at the magic of sensory to transport us back in time

My father has always been a big breakfast lover. On mornings when my he controlled the breakfast production, it would sometimes get gloriously elaborate - our favorite being his “fried” breakfast. First a pound of bacon would be cooked in a cast iron pan, followed by a pound of sausage. After a good inch or two of grease shimmered with full fatty fabulousness, my father would carefully crack eggs into the bubbling fat, perfectly poaching them until the edges were crispy and the liquid golden heart was still subtly quivering. After the eggs would come potatoes, soaking up that glorious greasy goodness, then finally thick slabs of bread to toast in the last sheen of oil. We sang my father’s praises as we wolfed down this morning grease feast.

My father’s love of breakfast extended to eating out, especially when we traveled. He loved to try whatever the locals were digging into, with very few exceptions. I carry a good load of his genes, and most certainly have a genetic propensity toward an exploration of all the wonderous breakfast foods available in my travels as well. 

What a terrific tapestry of tasty temptations breakfast around the world can be.

It seems to me that breakfast can embody a local culture better than any other meal. ‘Fusion’ can happen at other meals, as well as flipping between ethnic cuisines, but breakfast is much more local for many. What could be more English than a full English? If I told you I started the morning with biscotti and the perfect café au lait, you’d probably place me in Italy (or a close second – Arthur Ave in the Bronx). Change the biscotti to a churro, and you might say Spain. What about a breakfast of muesli? If we were playing the country guessing game, you would probably say Switzerland. Achee and salt cod? Of course it has to be Jamaica! What about fresh corn tortillas with a green chili sauce? That one takes me to Mexico City. Each one of these meals immediately transports me back to the time and place where I first had them to start my morning.

Within America, I could probably place you in a region, if not a specific state by the breakfast.Eggs and grits? Definitely the southeast. Coffee and a buttered roll? New York, baby. The thought of a perfectly cooked breakfast burrito sends the scent of salt air and heating asphalt from that food cart in LA where I first experienced them. A fluffy stack of pancakes drenched in real maple syrup (not that fake stuff), and I’m in New England on a cold February morning after going syruping. Chicory coffee and beignets? I can feel the thick warm air from a stroll through the early morning summer of New Orleans. Breaking still runny yolks into a pool of warm salsa with a side of tender, spicy beans and I’m looking out on a New Mexican sunrise over the painted desert. Give me a plate of warm buttermilk biscuits with butter and honey (no red eye gravy, thanks!), and I’m whisked back to the Texas plains of my childhood. Pie for breakfast? Must be in the Midwest!

What an opportunity for brands playing in this area if they can capitalize on this emotive space!

How sad for the people who skip breakfast, or who (like me most days) wolf something down while commuting or working without really paying attention, just to consume something. Breakfast sets the tone for our day, and links us to where we live. Like most food moments it can trigger memories, but how wonderful that it can sometimes transport us back through time and space as well. What an opportunity for brands playing in this area if they can capitalize on this emotive space!

So bring on breakfast. I’m feeling the chill of winter – tomorrow morning I might take a little visit south. I would really enjoy a plate of biscuits…


My favorite breakfast foods from around the world

The macro view of a cold latte in a glass cup in DenverJamaica – achee, codfish cakes, corn or peanut porridge
Argentina – strong coffee and little buttery breads
Mexico City – fresh corn tortillas stuffed with queso fresco and smothered in green chile sauce
England – full English (with kippers instead of sausage) – eggs, potatoes, tomatoes, mushrooms, toast, beans, and strong cups of tea with milk
Germany – open faced sandwiches of cold cuts and cheese on dark brown bread
Switzerland – coffee and museli
Austria – coffee or rich, dark chocolate, hard rolls with butter and jam
Montreal – strong coffee and buttery pastries from the bakery around the corner
In the US: Southern/Texas – eggs, cheese grits, and spicy ranch beans. Biscuits or cornbread smothered in butter and honey Southern/North Carolina – biscuits! Cornbread and bacon. Eggs and grits
LA - Breakfast burritos stuffed with potatoes and cheese, then lashed with hot sauce before rolling
New Mexico - heuvos rancheros with lots of beans!
NYC - Perfect bagels. Nothing beats the chewy crust and transcendence of dough that has been boiled then baked
Upper Midwest – pie is a perfectly legitimate breakfast food. Do not knock a fresh slice of blueberry or peach pie (or strawberry in season) with your cup of coffee. It’s up to you if that’s after a meal, or the meal itself

Take a look at some more here

Erin Riddell is Sensory Manager at MMR US

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