Breakfast is by far my favorite meal of the day and we all know what an important meal it is. Back home in the United States, breakfast for me meant deliciously sugary goodness like waffles, pancakes, and french toast piled high with syrup, fruit, and whipped cream. Definitely not the most nutritious version but it sure was tasting.
Since traveling around Latin America, I have discovered that while breakfast is important, it often gets a second place ranking to lunch, when everyone eats their main meal of the day. Unlike in the US where breakfast foods have their own separate category, breakfast in Latin America is often times simply a smaller version of typical lunch foods or leftovers from dinner the night before.
Thankfully this isn’t true in all cases and there are a number of traditional foods and recipes reserved strictly for breakfast. Be sure you try a few of my favorites below.
If I had to pick I’d say Colombians have the most creative breakfasts in Latin America. Each region of the country has its own traditions though many of them can be found mixed together in the capital city of Bogota.
You can’t have a traditional Colombian breakfast without trying their coffee, which they drink 24 hours a day! The other option is a hot chocolate but don’t be shocked when they drop a chunk of cheese in it. Colombians often put cheese in their hot chocolates, allowing the cheese to become soft and half melted as they drink, a special treat at the bottom of the cup.
If you want a Colombian breakfast that will really fill you up, ask for Changua. This milk and egg soup is traditionally served in Bogota and is reportedly a great hangover breakfast. It is basically a hot milk soup made with a bit of onion, cilantro, and eggs. You drop the egg in whole, without cracking the yolk until you are ready to eat.
Argentina is famous for its meat. Having a huge asados (bbq) with sausages, steaks, and every cut of meat you can imagine is not only a typical weekend activity, it’s practically mandatory. Knowing this, I was expecting and hoping to find that Argentinians eat equally huge, delicious breakfasts filled with bacon, ham, sausage, eggs, and more. Instead I found that a typical Argentinian breakfast is rarely more than a bit of bread.
Argentines don’t enjoy large breakfasts, often just having a quick snack before heading off to work. The “snack” usually consists of a few facturas, which is the name for the wide variety of pastries eaten with a traditional Argentine breakfast. They are more often than not sweet, filled with custards or dulce de leche though you can also find medialunas with ham and cheese filling.
Facturas are often served with additional dulce de leche or jam on the side and breakfast is finished off with coffee (most often café con leche) or yerba mate.
Breakfast in Mexico, like every meal must of course include a tortilla. Huevos motuleños offer that and so, so much more. Here is finally a breakfast that is worth celebrating; a complete collection of delicious goodness that will leave you feeling full all morning.
Huevos motuleños originated in the Yucatan Peninsula and reportedly in the town of Motul during the 1920s. The dish has now spread all over Mexico with each region giving it their own twist. In the Yucatan, your Huevos motuleños will most likely consist of a crispy corn tortilla topped with refried beans, tomato sauce (more like spicy salsa – watch out for the habanero peppers), a fried egg, and crumbled cheese. You can also add pieces of smoked ham, a bit of cilantro, a little lemon juice, and sometimes even peas.
Couple Travel Tips
- If you are missing breakfast “from back home” head over to the local supermarket. Even though people in Latin America rarely eat the same things for breakfast that you might find back home, they still have most of the items (cereal and milk, pancake mix, bacon) in their supermarkets.
- Breakfast is often a light meal in Latin America but don’t worry, you’ll make up for it at lunch when most people eat their largest meal of the day. Look for “Menu del Dia” for a traditional, cheap lunch.
- Can’t live without your breakfast traditional of Vegemite or peanut butter? You better pack a jar to bring with you. These items are HARD to find and even if you do, they will have a high “import” price.