BREAKFAST OF CHAMPIONS
There is nothing like waking up and sitting down to a scrumptious plate of bacon and eggs with some toast and a good helping of home fries. Failing that, a delicious assortment of huge, fluffy pancakes, lathered all over with butter and dripping in maple syrup, is a very tasty treat. Breakfast is a tradition I can’t do without, and one of the reasons I’m glad I live in this country. Not everyone in the world has similar tastes. Take Japan for instance. Breakfast on the Asian island consists of a selection of small plates, each with a few bites of salmon or mackerel, pickled vegetables and rice or a small bowl of miso soup. There’s also tamagoyaki, a slightly sweet rolled omelette made from thin layers of egg in a rectangular pan that gives it its signature shape. If you lived in Singapore you would wake up to kaya toast, an unassuming-looking toasted sandwich; spread with flavourful kaya, a sweet jam made with coconut milk, eggs, and sometimes pandan leaf, for vibrant green colour and flavour. Tunisia certainly has a different twist. Lablabi is a spiced chickpea soup, savoured at breakfast. Chickpeas and harissa paste are the two constants in virtually every lablabi recipe, and quite often it is thickened with pieces of stale crusty bread. Sometimes it is brightened by a squeeze of a lemon, made creamy with yogurt or topped with olives. Breakfast in Jamaica is also their national dish. Ackee, a delicately sweet pear-shaped fruit, is sautéed with salt cod, tomatoes, garlic, chillies and onion in a breakfast scramble that brings together sweet, salty and spicy for a one-of-a-kind island taste. Yummy! The Russians certainly know how to enjoy breakfast. Caviar is spread across dark, sweet rye bread, known simply as black bread, sometimes with a smear of butter as well. Most importantly, a pot of black tea is a fixture on every breakfast table. Taiwan takes breakfast to new levels. Dòu jiāng is a fresh soy milk specialty, typically made by street vendors and restaurants, served every morning for their customers. Most people prefer it hot in winter and cold in the summer. It is a refreshing contrast to the chewy scallion pancakes, dumplings and dough fritters, also part of the usual Taiwanese breakfast. Dip your fritters in the soy milk for an extra treat. My personal favourite comes from my memories as a young boy in the Netherlands. My mother would fry a slab of bacon and we would dip slices of bread in the grease; the bacon would then be wrapped and put away again. Next, she would slice blood pudding and fry it with pieces of apple; while we cut up my uncle’s homemade head cheese, and put it between two slices of thick, brown bread. It just doesn’t get any better. Jonathan van Bilsen is a television host, award winning photographer, published author, columnist and keynote speaker. Watch his show, ‘Jonathan van Bilsen’s photosNtravel’, on Rogers TV, the Standard Website or YouTube.