Wake Up & Smell the Dim Sum: How 4 Countries Around the World do Breakfast

You’ve probably heard it said that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Whether or not you agree, there’s no shortage of ways to dig into a morning meal. From omelets to cereal, toast to smoothies—or just a cup of coffee—breakfast is a reflection of your plans for the day and your place in the world. Read on to learn how people around the globe start their day (and maybe give some of their traditions a try).


Dim sum consists of lots of small (sometimes bite-sized) dishes served in steamer baskets or on small plates—and at Cantonese spots, dim sum dishes are served via carts rolled around the restaurant. Dim sum is rooted in the tradition of yum cha–or drinking tea–and it gradually evolved to become a complete dining experience. However, drinking tea is still an essential part of the modern-day dim sum experience.

Traditionally eaten for breakfast, dim sum includes an array of small dishes like steamed buns, dumplings, and rice noodle rolls, all of which contain either beef, chicken, pork, prawns, or veggies. Some of the most popular dishes eaten during dim sum include shrimp dumplings, Chinese sticky rice, potstickers, and dumpling soup.


When it comes to breakfast, the French keep it simple. The mainstay of the morning meal is none other than that crescent-shaped delight known as the croissant. The long, flaky pastry is often eaten plain, with jam, or dipped into coffee—but NEVER with butter.

Croissants are typically made from water, milk, flour, yeast, sugar, and butter or margarine. Yeast-leavened dough is layered with butter, then rolled and folded again and again in a technique called laminating. When the croissants bake, butter makes pockets of steam in the dough—and these dreamy buttery pockets give the croissant its signature layers of flakiness.


The typical Japanese breakfast consists of steamed rice, miso soup, and a protein of sorts, either grilled fish or tamagoyaki, a rolled egg omelet. This main meal is usually accompanied by tsukemono (Japanese pickles), nori (dried seaweed), natto (fermented soy beans), and kobachi (vegetables, either pickled, cooked, or fresh).

Though breakfast in Japan tends to include a range of tastes that Westerners might find suitable for lunch or dinner, portion sizes are small and dishes are prepared without a lot of grease or heaviness.


As for Brazil, cheese bread—or pão de queijo—is what’s for breakfast. The origin of this traditional Brazilian roll actually involved no cheese at all. Because milk and cheese weren’t widely available to the Afro-Brazilian community until the end of the 19th century, these rolls were first made from soaked, peeled cassava root. As milk and cheese became more common, Brazilians started adding both to their tapioca rolls.

These days, the primary ingredients of pão do queijo are cassava, egg, either lard, vegetable oil, butter, or margarine, and of course, cheese. Various cheeses are used depending on region and availability, but the most common are mozzarella, parmesan, and traditional ripened and “standard” cheeses from Minas Gerais. Some recipes for cheese bread also use potato.

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