Breakfast, fond though I may be of it, is not a global
phenomenon. The semi-mythical "ugly American
" traveller may find themselves quite distraught when they can't get some pancakes
, and bacon
every morning before wandering over to the Louvre
and taking pictures of themselves by the Mona Lisa
. This, however, is quite likely, as many countries do not observe breakfast. I report here on breakfast in Western Europe and Japan, as that's what I know best outside of the U.S.
The French word for breakfast is petit déjeuner, or "little lunch". This may begin to indicate to you how little regard the French have for breakfast. The morning meal in France will usually consist of coffee, tea, or hot chocolate (often served out of a bowl rather than a mug), and bread rolls with jam or croissants.
Spain's breakfast is similarly sparse. Usually coffee and a pastry, toast with butter, or my favorite—pan tostado. While the name simply means "toasted bread", it is more: it consists of a thin slice of toasted bread topped with a spread of tomato innards: seeds, juice, and all. Also available are the somewhat disturbing but tasty churros con chocolate—deep-fried doughnut-like concoctions full of warm chocolate.
Breakfast in Germany is quite hearty. Tea, coffee, or hot chocolate are served. Heavy, aromatic brown bread or rolls with jam accompany flavorful (think Swiss or Edam) cheese and thin slices of ham. Eggs, hard-boiled, are also popular.
Switzerland. . . now, the Swiss know how to make a good breakfast. All of the typical German breakfast is available, along with lots and lots of fresh fruit. The cereal that is called "Muesli" in America is a quite tasty option, as is the real Müsli—oatmeal soaked overnight in yogurt or milk.
All across western Europe, wondrous fresh-squeezed orange juice (usually squeezed right before your eyes in complicated and ingenious contraptions) is available at all times, and will usually manage to placate even the most finicky of eaters.
In Japan, on the other hand, a more substantial breakfast may be found. Western breakfasts are rather popular; the American staple of cereal is none too uncommon, nor is toast, though usually made from pathetic white bread. Yogurt is also popular. However, a more traditional breakfast differs greatly from anything found in Western countries. At the center of the meal will be miso soup and a bowl of rice, often with the infamous natto and green onions. Some form of side dish(es) will usually be served with this. Fish is quite common, perhaps being raw saba, or grilled aji or salmon. A couple small pickled vegetables will usually be served. Sometimes you will find tamagoyaki, a sort of square rolled omelet. The drink accompanying the meal will almost certainly be Japanese green tea.