Desayuno in Spanish, petit-dejuener in French, pequeno almoco in Portuguese and a whole host of other names in other languages.  Breakfast is one of the stranger meals when you travel.


For one thing, it is sometimes included in your hotel rate, but often not.  On a recent trip to France, most hotels’ rates for breakfast were upwards of Eu15 per person – more than $20.  For coffee, juice, croissants and jam.  Sheesh.  On another trip to France when you booked your hotel online, they gave you free breakfast.  What a deal!

I remember my first trip to France, with my parents around 1976 and how my father was outraged at what the Novotel wanted to charge for breakfast then.  It hasn’t changed!

Rates in Spain and Portugal are a bit less, but still no great value.  We generally find a coffee or pastry shop, get a few good coffees and some fresh pastries for less than half what they would want to charge for one similar breakfast in the hotel.  If you find a good patisserie you have a wider choice of options than your hotel and the pastries are fresher. 

Breakfast habits and tastes vary wildly around the world.  I’m not a huge fan of salami, cheese, and plain yogurt in the morning, which I’ve been served in the Netherlands.  Salad isn’t high on my preferred early morning list of comestibles either, but the Israelis seem to like it.  In Laos, I started my day with a Dragon fruit shake. 

Dragon fruit is an exotic fruit found quite commonly in SE Asia and Central America.  The first time I ever had it was at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore, no less. It has a strange purplish scaly exterior (hence the name) and the interior is usually either purple or white with tiny black seeds as if the watermelon textured flesh was evenly studded with poppy seeds.   The few times I’ve had Dragon fruit at home it has been very disappointing – like watermelon with no flavor.  But in Guatemala and Laos, the fresh fruit has a subtle but distinct flavor that gets lost in shipping.

Perhaps my favorite place for breakfast is Malaysia.  Most hotels include breakfast, and it is usually much more substantial than most European offerings.  What makes it fun is that they try to cater to all their guests.  So they have cereal, toast, tea, sausages, eggs, etc. for the Americans and British, various Malay dishes including spicy noodles for the locals, and things like congee (rice porridge) and miso soup  for the Japanese.  And since most of the hotels cater to Muslim guests, there is no pork (the sausages are chicken). 

Of course, since all kinds of tropical fruits are grown locally, the fresh fruit and fruit juices are amazing.

Where else can you get baked beans and curry washed down with Starfruit juice to get your day started?

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