All sorts of restaurants claim to have authentic foods, whether it’s authentic tacos or an authentic European-style breakfast. Sometimes they actually do, too!
But what IS a European-style breakfast? What do they actually eat for breakfast on a daily basis? Can I get something like that at Old European?
The answer to that question is yes. You absolutely can! European-style breakfasts are actually quite diverse, as breakfast foods and practices vary from country to country. The continental breakfast served at many hotels is both close to the mark and completely off-base, depending on exactly what part of the continent you’re on!
What Is A Common European Breakfast Like?
The common European breakfast actually varies quite a bit in some regards, but there is also some differentiation that’s warranted. There’s often a difference between weekday breakfasts and weekend breakfasts, just as there is in America.
You’ll often have something like cereal or oatmeal most mornings with your coffee, but on the weekend you have bacon, eggs, toast and hash browns, if not pancakes, French toast or some other tasty treat. It’s much the same with European breakfast foods.
The typical European breakfast menu is often a simple affair.
In most European countries, a staple of breakfast is breads. Usually simple bread, just a slice of a nice rustic or bakery loaf. Some countries prefer a nice white bread – or in France, baguette – or rolls or flatbread. Denmark is known for a national preference for rye bread. Along with that is commonly butter, jam, soft or mild cheeses.
Cold cuts are quite common in many countries, especially the Germanic and Baltic countries. Pate and other cold meats are a typical breakfast accompaniment.
Other countries are known for sweets with their breakfast. Churros are a common breakfast food for the Spanish, served with rich, sweet hot chocolate. The French are known for pain au chocolat or a thick spread of Nutella on a morning slice or two of baguette. Pastries, cold and hot, are also common breakfast items.
Porridges and cereals have become quite common, though breakfast cereals are usually plain rather than sweet. Cornflakes and muesli – similar to granola, though not nearly as sweet as American granola – are popular dishes.
However, milk isn’t as preferred in some regions as yogurt is, though – again – often not nearly as sweet as the American version.
That said, this is the typical “I gotta get to work” breakfast that takes minutes. What about the European breakfast foods people REALLY like to eat?
Favorite European Breakfast Foods
That said, there are other European breakfast foods that are definitely cultural and regional favorites that – while maybe not eaten every day – are definitely relished by many.
The British Isles and Ireland are known for a dish commonly known as the Full English Breakfast or – in Ireland – the fry up. Hashbrowns or fried potatoes are served with toast, baked beans, fried tomatoes and mushrooms, sausage links and back bacon (different from belly bacon, which is what you’re used to) and often enough, black pudding – a blood sausage with a meat taste but the consistency of chocolate cake.
Cinnamon rolls are favorites as a sweet treat, especially with luxurious icing.
Crepes are popular all over Europe, along with blinis which are basically the same thing but typically a bit more savory. Pancakes are as well, though they are typically a weekend or occasional treat, though heirloom wheat varieties, oats and buckwheat are much more common ingredients rather than white flour.
Hardboiled eggs are common for workday breakfasts, but cooked eggs would be more for weekends or at a European bed and breakfast.
Sweet pastries are had on a more regular basis, though some people treat them as a treat. That’s when foods like croissant or cruellers in France – or abbelskivvers in Denmark – would be a sweet treat for those special days.
Potato-based dishes are sometimes breakfast foods in some countries, though they are often treated as lunch dishes as much as breakfast dishes. Potato-bashed goulash in Hungary and in Central Europe is a favorite late breakfast or lunch dish, and then there are similar dishes such as bubble and squeak in England, or colcannon in Ireland.
There Is A Constant In European Breakfast: Coffee
However, if there is a constant in any European breakfast, it’s coffee. Coffee is drunk in almost every country on the continent. Having coffee – or in some cases tea – is more of a global constant at this point, and coffee with European breakfast is no exception.
Preparation method varies, of course, with a French press and percolated coffee being staples, though plenty of people use a regular old coffee pot. Some, of course, will drink it black or with cream and/or sugar.
Espresso is also popular, either in straight shots or cappuccino and other recipes. Cafe au lait is also a popular breakfast drink.
If you want an authentic European breakfast, make sure that whatever you have comes with a good cup of coffee.