Eat Whatever You Want For Breakfast

Why does the U.S. have such strict ideas about what constitutes "breakfast food"?

At first glance, you might think I'm some sort of breakfast purist. I have three family-sized boxes of cereal in my pantry right now, along with two boxes of waffle mix (so I never run out). Earlier this week, I waxed poetic about the pleasures of frying eggs in bacon grease. I own an oven mitt that features a man made of pancakes. A pancake man.


And yet, this morning, do you know what I had for breakfast? Exactly what I had for dinner the night before: lightly spicy chicken adobo served over rice with a runny egg and a nectarine. It was delicious, and it got me thinking: why are American breakfast menus still so limited? I have a deep, ardent appreciation for pancakes, waffles, and Benedicts of all shapes and sizes. But when will American diners join the rest of the world in total breakfast liberation?

With this in mind, please picture me hoisting myself up onto a little mound and blowing into a sheep's horn to make the following proclamation: You can eat anything you want for breakfast! Really!

If you live literally anywhere outside of the United States, you know that breakfast fluidity is far from a novel concept. In Thailand, you can enjoy a delicious portion of jok, or joke, a thick congee made of boiled rice and served steaming hot with a cracked egg, minced pork, and liver if you're lucky. Garlic fried rice is a major component of many Filipino breakfasts, further solidifying the Phillipines' status as a beacon of superior cuisine. Zip over to South Korea and you'll find the kind of breakfast ideology I crave: "A typical Korean breakfast is not that much different than the other meals of the day, except maybe a bit on the lighter side," writes Naomi Imatome-Yun for The Spruce Eats. "Rice, a small bowl of soup or stew, and any number of banchan would typically make up the first meal of the day." Breakfast soup! Now we're talking.


Then, of course, we have the mighty breakfast bean, which plays a key role in the classic English breakfast. Meanwhile, in Egypt, you'll see ful medames, a breakfast dish full of fava beans, chickpeas, garlic, and lemon. The American Bean Institute (a real organization) even launched a whole campaign to encourage people to "make beans part of your morning routine." More beans on the breakfast table, that's what I say!

In the U.S., breakfast foods still seem to exist in their own lonely little corner of the gastronomic realm. If breakfast is the most important meal of the day, it should be as delicious as possible—but what happens if you're craving a corn dog instead of a waffle? I'm a grown woman! I want a patty melt at 8:30 a.m.!

I love traditional breakfast fare, but it's nice to have options. So please, consider this your official notice to start living life the way you want to live it. Breakfast meatloaf? Certainly! Breakfast corn chowder? Delicious! Take the plunge into the sweet, savory, sour, or spicy territory of your choosing. You deserve it. (And hey, treat yourself to some lunch pancakes, too.)