What Children Around the World Eat for Breakfast

Jan Scott February 16, 2017

Many, many years ago, my husband dated someone from South America. Her family had several different food habits, one of which included eating a side dish of rice with every meal—even spaghetti, pizza, and any other carb-heavy dinner. To this day, my husband still loves rice, and so do my boys, and while we eat it often, it never accompanies a carbohydrate-laden meal. However it does frequently make an appearance on our breakfast table.
One of my family’s favourite morning meals is leftover rice cooked with scrambled eggs and served with a side of hot sauce. A little unusual to be sure, but stick-to-your-ribs filling. To make it, I swirl some olive oil in a hot pan, add the rice and cook it until warmed through and lightly golden in colour, then I add half a dozen beaten eggs and toss it all together to create a rice and egg scramble. It takes less than 10 minutes and everyone comes to the kitchen happy and hungry when they see what I’m cooking.

I tell you this because last week The New York Times published a piece on what children around the world eat for breakfast, and it’s a fascinating look at the differences in breakfasts around the globe. While we’re accustomed to eating eggs, bagels, cold cereal, oatmeal, yogurt, fruit, and coffee first thing in our day, some kids are eating millet-seed porridge, fermented soy beans, olives, dried meat, and pickled eggs.

For kids living in Latin America, sipping coffee with milk in the morning is relatively normal, and for the children in India, the day might start with steamed cake made from fermented lentils and rice. In fact, ‘the idea that children should have bland, sweet food is a very industrial presumption,’ says Krishnendu Ray, a professor of food studies at New York University who grew up in India. ‘In many parts of the world, breakfast is tepid, sour, fermented and savory.’

So, now I’m curious’—what’s the most unusual thing your children eat for breakfast? Would they be happy eating more savoury lunch-like dishes first thing in the morning? Do you agree that (North) Americans lack imagination when it comes to making breakfast? If you haven’t already, I encourage you to check out the article, it’s really quite interesting!

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