Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Things That Make Me Chuckle

This representation of "an American breakfast," recipe included, from a TV magazine that came last week:

"American Breakfast"

Hm. What's wrong with this picture? Pancakes - sure, we Americans eat those. But we don't eat them with a fruit compote garnished with vanilla beans. We smother those babies in butter and maple syrup or fill them with chocolate chips and eat them with a side of bacon. Americans have been known to eat pancakes with fruit, but then they're stuffed with blueberries (and topped with butter and sticky-sweet blueberry syrup) or covered with sugary strawberries and a huge dollop of whipped cream, like this:

Click here to see what you can get at IHOP (International House of Pancakes - a popular American restaurant chain), but don't be fooled by the tiny spoonfuls of whipped cream on those pictures - they put four times that amount on the pancakes and waffles when they're not being photographed for the website.

Now this...this is the kind of breakfast we eat in Wisconsin:

I don't actually know what that is, but a relative posted it on Facebook a while back, and I saved it with the caption "WTH Breakfast". There's definately some buttered toast there, and piece of pineapple slapped on a plate that's too small ("presentation" is something for only the finest restaurants in the U.S.). That looks like some kind of chunky gravy dumped over hashbrowns and diced ham. I would guess there's an egg under there somewhere, and probably onions.

It makes me giggle to imagine a German having breakfast at that place, choosing something unfamiliar from the menu to try something new and exotic, and getting served....that. It looks like it could be a compilation of what the previous four diners didn't eat.

Here's another typical American (Wisconsin, anyway) breakfast - one I ordered:

My friends had similar breakfasts - it's good hangover food (not that we were hung over!). Hash browns, eggs, bacon or sausage - or both, whatever - and buttered toast with jam, all squished onto a plate. Since there wasn't enough room, the toast is on top of the bacon, which is on top of the eggs.

So when  Americans travel to Germany, book a room "with breakfast" in an economy hotel*, and wake up to find this...
fresh fruit, fresh-baked rolls, cold cuts, cheese, fruit, yogurt,
tomato and cucumber slices, juice,
and teeny-tiny plates

...they understandably stumble around in a confused daze looking for the "real" food.

     "Where are the sweet rolls and donuts? Where are the pancakes? The scrambled eggs??"

     "And for the love of God, where is the BACON?!"

     "What are we supposed to do with cold cuts, cheese, and vegetables?!"

     "No, seriously. We're having sandwiches for breakfast? I want hash browns."

            "We call those Rösti. You can order those with dinner."


Andere Länder, andere Sitten, or different strokes for different folks... I can enjoy a good ol' Wisconsin breakfast during a visit, but I find the typical German breakfast more sensible.

*If you book at a more expensive hotel, such as the Mövenpick, you'll find a breakfast buffet to die for - hot food, cold food, fresh bread with every possible thing to put on it, bacon and sausages, and the sugary cereals and sweet rolls that Americans expect.

What do you like for breakfast when you travel? What about at home?


  1. AHHHHH!!!! I totally agree that a good Midwestern Breakfast is The. Best. for hangovers. When I was in LA in April, I was out with my friends from college and there was (a lot) of drinking. The next day we had breakfast with our hosts (who were German) with their beautiful and healthy Germany breakfast full of fruits, fresh bread, and cheeses. I ate a little bit and promptly threw up. Apparently it was NOT what my body needed. A few hours later I met with my friends again at a Restaurant owned by a woman from Indiana (side note: all my college friends were also Hooiser) so we could have Hoosier-Made Biscuits and Gravy (also with a bloody Mary - but that's not from Indiana). About halfway through eating it - I felt a million times better.

    Anyway, I do enjoy a good German breakfast (my favorite being fresh baked bread, spicy cheese and salmon...yummmmm). I like that they are filling but you don't feel heavy afterwards but there are times when I would just love an American breakfast.

    1. I like the fact that German breakfasts build you up but aren't sugary sweet. And of course even in modest hotels, the coffee is usually excellent! I've been told that fruit is not good on a hangover because of the natural additional acids. Makes sense, I guess.

  2. That stuff you call gravy is so confusing to me! In the UK, gravy is what the Germans call "Bratensoße" (except ours is nice - German gravy is too watery!). When I was in the US (I think this was in Philadelphia), I ordered something that came with mashed potatoes and "gravy"... the stuff I assume was the "gravy" looked and tasted more like vegetable soup! It was very nice, but so not what I was expecting!

    1. Haha! Yes, I can understand the confusion. It does look a bit like slop, doesn't it, especially in that picture above. I never liked gravy when I was young, and still don't when it's too thick. I prefer a thin (wine) sauce.