Five European Takes On Breakfast
Leah Walker November 24, 2017

Breakfast – the most important meal of the day? Well, that depends a lot on the individual. Some of us don’t feel like eating the moment we get up, or simply don’t have time to squeeze it in before leaving the house for work. For others, though, eating is the first thing we need to do when we’re awake; showers and getting dressed can wait!

Of course, today, there are many similarities in what different nationalities eat in the morning, thanks to the fact that so many foods are available in every supermarket wherever you might be. However, it’s still possible to pick out some variations between one European nation’s breakfast from its neighbors’.


A typical breakfast in the Netherlands can be sweet or savory. Often there’s bread involved – of the sliced variety. On top, the Dutch put apple syrup (appelstroop), cold cuts like meat or cheese, honey, jam or Nutella. But most kids follow a certain breakfast ritual. They butter their bread and then add De Ruijter chocolate sprinkles, locally known as hagelslag. Yes, what most of us would decorate a birthday cake with is considered proper breakfast material in Holland – whether the hagelslag are chocolate, fruit or aniseed flavors. It’s not to everyone’s taste but it’s worth trying at least once. The Dutch will usually drink coffee or tea with their breakfast.



Look around you in a busy Greek city and you won’t see that much evidence of people sitting down to a hearty breakfast. More typically, as in many other European cities, you see people having a stand-up coffee at a bar on the way to work.However, that’s not to say that there are many delicious breakfast offerings in Greece for those who want them. These include dishes such as galatopita (milk pie) or Greek pancakes (tiganites) topped with tahini and a molasses made from grapes.

Depending on the time of day you get up, breakfast can easily be turned into a more substantial meal – otherwise known as brunch. Check out, for instance, the choice of brunches Deliveroo UK describes and you’ll see the possibilities for a mid-morning meal are almost limitless; and can be sweet, savory, healthy or indulgent. In Greece, people looking to turn their breakfast into brunch would typically have an omelette with graviera cheese or smoked pork.



Contrary to what you might imagine, most French people don’t have patisserie-purchased breakfasts when they’re at home, unless it’s the weekend. However, on a weekday, it’s more common for grown-ups and kids alike to eat the longer-life pastries you can buy in the supermarket, like the rolled and ready-to-eat Whaoo crepes that come with a Nutella filling.

The image we all grew up with, of lucky French kids having a bowl of hot chocolate to dip their bread in the mornings, is still relevant in many French households, while their parents usually drink coffee. And whenever you want an authentic patisserie breakfast, with a pain au chocolat, chausson de pomme or pain au raisin, a fantastic bakery is never too far away.


In Portugal, there’s a similar theme with breakfast; with bread – toasted or fresh – being topped with cold meats or something sweet like jam. And as in France, there are lots of delicious pastries such as nata that make an alternative for breakfast. Coffee’s a big thing in Portugal. For that reason, while you’ll find there are the big coffee shop chains like Starbucks in Portugal, they don’t dominate in the same way they do in cities in the UK. Wherever you get a Portuguese coffee, whether it’s a meia de leite (milky coffee) or a galão (more milk than coffee) or a garoto (espresso topped with a little milk), it’ll usually be of a high standard. As in France and Holland, the kids often have hot chocolate milk with their breakfast.


The typical German breakfast isn’t very far removed from the Dutch breakfast, with bread or rolls being eaten with different jams or honey, ham, salami, cheese or hard-boiled eggs. And to drink there’s the usual array of coffee, tea or juice.  A weekend breakfast in Germany is typically quite a filling affair, but these days it’s far more common for people to skip the continental breakfast and have a quick bowl of cereal or muesli instead.

But that’s enough from us, which of these breakfasts would you choose?

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, USA Today 10 Best, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel and wine ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's lived in Paris for three years, and was recently awarded another four with a Passeport Talent visa renewal. Though, her talent for speaking French is abysmal.

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