When I think “Brunch”, I think of an American staple: hungover hipsters and rich urbanites departing from their beds, closer to mid-day than morning, to gorge themselves on food and continue their drinking into Sunday afternoon. But it turns out Americans aren’t the only ones who love a lazy Sunday spent with friends and their favorite cultural delicacies. Check out these brunch dishes, drinks and customs from 10 cities around the world!
1. Hong Kong, China
Dim Sum & Yuan Yang
This keystone of Chinese culinary culture translates literally to “with a touch of heart.” Bite-sized buns packed with seafood, pork, or vegetables, they can be prepared either steamed or fried. Usually, they’re paired with Yuan Yang—a coffee and milk tea blend with ceylon, pu’er tea leaves and evaporated milk. Remember to keep in mind that, although tempting, stabbing the bun with your chopstick is ill-mannered. Also, it is considered polite to leave a small bit of food on your plate to show that the chef provided an adequate amount.
2. Paris, France
Oeufs en Cocotte au Saumon Fumé & Bloody Mary
This French delicacy of eggs cooked in creme fraiche and topped with smoked salmon is a favorite for good reason: France is #1 in smoked salmon production, making their selection always fresh and readily available for the masses. As you could imagine, the meal is typically served with baguette–10 billion baguettes are baked in France annually, making the bread one of the most widely consumed items in the country. Pair this all with a Bloody Mary, a cocktail consisting of tomato juice and vodka invented by a parisian in 1921, for the perfect touch of booziness, but don’t forget to cheers before you drink with “à votre santé”.
3. London, UK
Full English Breakfast & Buck’s Fizz
The Full English Breakfast is a time honored classic in the U.K., and comes with all the elements you’d want in a hearty brunch meal. The plate consists of everything from fried eggs to bacon and sausage, with mushrooms, tomatoes and baked beans in between, making it the ultimate consummation of breakfast essentials. If bread is served alongside, it is customary to break the bread with your hands instead of biting directly into it. As a drink option, kick your hangover with some “hair of the dog” and enjoy your meal with a Buck’s Fizz—a fizzy cocktail made with orange juice and champagne, originally served at Buck’s Club.
4. Cairo, Egypt
Ful Medames & Shai
This meal is incredibly popular for morning/afternoon indulgence—the spicy broad bean dip is infused with garlic, lemon, cumin, tahini and coriander powder, giving it the kick to make a perfect partner for pita bread dunking. The preferred drink pairing is often Shai, the beloved middle-eastern drink of choice, which mixes rich black tea, sugarcane and fragrant mint leaves into a delicious hot beverage. In Egypt, it is correct to eat using only your right hand, as the left is considered unclean and impolite, just like adding a lot of salt to your meal.
5. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Açai Bowl & Cafezinho
The açai bowl has become quite well-known in the US, but the dish is best served in its original home of Brazil, with a mix of their açai berries frozen and mashed, and then topped with additions like granola, chia seeds, bananas and almond butter, to name just a few. In the spirit of keeping things healthy, one might forgo the alcohol with this one and instead sip on a Cafezinho, a filtered coffee drink typically taken with heavy sugar to cut the bitter taste. Meal time in Rio de Janeiro is known as a time to sit back and relax so be sure to take it slow and enjoy your dish!
6. New Delhi, India
Idli & Chai
This spongy cake is a little on the sour side—it’s made from rice, dal, fenugreek seeds, salt, sugar and water. The cake is then paired with a chutney or sambal, which allows for flavors to vary quite a bit; a favorite is coconut chutney with chickpeas, chili, ginger, lime, and coriander. Chai, a flavored tea beverage that has been around for over 5,000 years, is a good pair, as it’s sweet in taste and often mixed with cinnamon, nutmeg, milk, or sugar. Be careful not to over order—leaving uneaten food on your plate is considered disrespectful so try to clear your dish!
7. Cancun, Mexico
Huevos Divorciados & Michelada
This meal consists of fried eggs—Mexico consumes the most eggs per capita at 352 eggs per year— topped with a spicy mix of green and red salsa, cotija cheese, and refried beans. A side of tortilla chips typically accompanies the dish, to scoop up all the elements into one crunchy bite. A great drink pairing is a Michelada, a beverage that mixes beer, chili, lime, worcestershire and tabasco sauce to make the perfect spicy cocktail. Toasting with a “buen provecho” is customary, and like in America, tip is often not included at restaurants so it is essential to calculate that for yourself.
8. Barcelona, Spain
Tapas & Cava
Tapas allows for a plethora of choices that can be shared, allowing brunch-ers to experience multiple flavors in one sitting. Some popular tapas options are tortilla espanola (egg and potato cake), patatas bravas (spicy fried potatoes) and pan con tomate (toasted bread topped with tomato). Tapas is often enjoyed with a glass of Cava, a sparkling wine with a similar recipe to that of champagne. Because this meal is meant to share, it’s typically enjoyed with a lot of friends and conversation can continue way past meal time.
9. Sydney, Australia
Cheese and Gravy Scone & Mimosa
The scone can be garnished with many ingredients, but the most delicious is simple: cheese and gravy. The doughy biscuits are often topped with a smoky cheese like cheddar or gouda, and then drenched in a rich gravy and paired with a side of fried eggs. A glass of champagne and orange juice, the Mimosa, is frequently enjoyed at brunch for the perfect fruity addition to a savory meal.
10. Tel Aviv, Israel
Shakshuka & Cafe Afuch
Shakshuka is an Israeli classic: the dish consists of poached eggs in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, and onions. The flavoring ranges from mild to fiery spice, and bread or israeli salad (a mix of cucumbers, tomatoes, and onions) are often served to balance out the heat factor. The Cafe Afuch, possibly the most popular coffee drink in Israel, is an “upside-down” beverage—first, steamed milk is poured into the glass, and then espresso is added slowly on top. Make sure to try and eat with either utensils or your right hand, as the left is considered unclean, like most places in the Middle East.
For more articles like this, purchase the whole “Brunch Issue” of Resource Magazine!