12 Brunch Dishes from Around the World

Eggs, toasts, and pastries from overseas that’ll make you swoon

Dim Sum is eaten as a brunch meal rather than an appetizer in Hong Kong. (Photo Modified: Flickr/Hisakazu Watanabe/CC 4.0)

Ah, brunch. The meal as we know it — a breakfast-lunch hybrid to be consumed leisurely with alcohol and company — has taken the world by storm in the past 10 years, although the meal itself has been eaten since the nineteenth century. In 1876, the British magazine Punch specified that if the meal was eaten closer to breakfast, it was brunch, but if it was eaten closer to lunch, it was blunch. Here are 12 daytime meals from around the world that differ in many ways but one: they must be consumed with gusto. 

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It was tough to choose only 12 items from this extensive list, but these 12 will not disappoint. And if you want to drool over more brunch, check out our list of 51 amazing brunch recipes.

So, what exactly constitutes brunch? What makes a breakfast item different from a brunch item? Brunch, by definition, is a late morning meal eaten instead of breakfast and lunch. Since the concept of brunch is primarily Western, it puts certain “brunch” items in the Lonely Planet guide and on this list in a grey area, such as breakfast items like çılbır from Turkey or tapsilog from the Philippines. However, if there were (and there very well might be) brunch menus in these countries, çılbır, a poached eggs dish, and tapsilog, a plate of greasy food that people tend to eat while hungover, would most likely be on them.

Some of these dishes, like ful medames from Egypt, have stayed virtually unchanged for thousands of years. Others, like Singaporean kaya toast, a cousin of the British staple of toast and jam, are relics of early colonialism. Dumplings and hangover-friendly breakfasts are familiar to us, but the time in which these meals are eaten or the ingredients they use is what makes them unique to particular locales. Be careful of some of the more unfamiliar ingredients, like ackee fruit: buttery fruits, not dissimilar to lychee, that might make you vomit uncontrollably for long periods of time if they are not cut properly. Lucky for you, there are canned varieties that are marginally safer, but adventurous eaters are encouraged to try the real thing.

Brunch or blunch, these dishes will satiate you for the entire day and memories of them will satisfy you for weeks or months to come. 

Ackee and Saltfish (Jamaica)

Ackee, described in Lonely Planet: The World’s Best Brunches as buttery with an egg-like consistency, is native to Africa, but it crossed the Atlantic during the slave trade and never left. In fact, ackee is Jamaica’s national fruit. It pairs beautifully with salty cod, onions, tomatoes, spices, and the side dishes of fried breadfruit, plantains, or cassava pancakes. Smurf’s Café on Treasure Beach serves it for a humble $8.

Bubur Ayam

Bubur Ayam (Indonesia)

Bubur ayam is a kind of congee: one of the most versatile breakfast foods in Asia. The thick, slow-cooked rice porridge is excellent for digestive health. Bubur ayam is a congee eaten in Indonesia with shredded chicken, scallions, salted veggies, crispy bread, and soy sauce. Try it at Bubur Ayam Mangga Besar or on the streets of Jakarta.



This post was originally published March 30, 2015