Breakfast is our most important meal according to nutritionists. Skipping it, they warn, can cause impaired concentration and reduced efficiency, not to mention late morning donuts and candy bars, weight gain, cavities and stubborn chocolate stains.

One possible reason for Americans skipping breakfast is that it has become a boring meal. We have so few menu choices -cereal, eggs, bacon, home fries, waffles and pancakes. We’re almost sure to repeat ourselves once a week.

But why settle for a typicial American breakfast when our lunch and dinner menus now include a wide variety of international dishes like wiener schnitzel, Hungarian goulash, borscht, sushi, tacos, pizza and many pasta varieties? Why not try the favorite breakfasts of other countries?

Some foreign breakfast recipes sound intriguing, like the Peruvian ceviche’s diced fish, flavored with lime juice, onions, chile and avocados. Caribbean banana fritters would be a sweet choice, dipped in sugar, vanilla and cinammon, sauteed in vegetable oil. An acquired taste might be necessary for Japan’s fermented soy beans and rice and the Egyptians’ fava beans in olive oil. (Didn’t Hannibal the Cannibal speak fondly of fava beans?)

You’ll probably have to call ahead if you want your local diner to prepare a popular Cambodian breakfast of dried fish and pig’s blood porridge and they might want you to sign a waiver before they’ll serve it.

I was suprised to find coffee is not the usual breakfast beverage served everywhere overseas. I don’t understand that. I can endure coffee without breakast sometimes, but never breakfast without the coffee which was introduced to the west by Italian traders around 1600. It soon replaced beer as the preferred breakfast drink in our cities. (And how come the Italians took so long getting pizza here?)

Ours is a big country and, coast to coast, we don’t all speak the same breakfast lingo. Once, on the road in eastern Pennsylvania, I stopped in a diner for a quick breakfast. Without checking the menu, I told the waitress, “I’ll just have a coffee and an egg sandwich on a hard roll.” She gave me an odd look and went into the kitchen. A moment later the cook came out. “Let me get this straight,” he said. “You want an egg sandwich on a stale roll?” I thought maybe they called them “Kaisers” there, but I didn’t want to get into it and replied, “Make that on toast.”.

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