What Eastern Europeans Eat for Breakfast

Easter breakfast
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Breakfast is the most important meal the day, no matter where you are. When you are traveling you will encounter a different form of breakfast in Eastern Europe as compared with the U.S., Canada, and neighboring countries farther to the west in Europe.

While cold cereals are becoming more common, breakfast typically is a much more substantial meal—pickled meats, smoked sausages, pickled and fresh fruits and vegetables, hard-cooked eggs, cheeses, pastries, jams, jellies and breads galore. The waffles, pancakes, and sweet rolls so common for breakfast in the West are usually reserved for the main course or dessert in Eastern Europe. Omelets are becoming popular in the larger hotels and restaurants, but loose, moist scrambled eggs are more common.

If you are traveling, try a traditional breakfast in these countries. As well, you might make some traditional Eastern European breakfast dishes if you are hosting travelers from Eastern Europe.

Hungarian Breakfast

In Hungary, breakfast might consist of any combination of bread, rolls, or crescent-shaped kiflik (pastries with sweet or savory fillings), butter, jam or honey, eggs many ways, sausages, cheeses, tea, coffee or milk. In summer, Hungarians sometimes have lecso (tomato-pepper stew).

Polish Breakfast

In Poland, where breakfast is known as sniadania, you might dine on an open-face sandwich, or zapiekanka or kanapka, made of cold cuts, meat spreads, kielbasa, cheese, tomatoes, and sliced pickles.

Bread and rolls of all types figure prominently at the Polish breakfast table. Eggs prepared many ways—scrambled with bits of sausage or bacon, hard- or soft-boiled—are common. Hot oatmeal, muesli, or breakfast cereal with milk are very common. Jams, especially powidla sliwkowe (plum butter), are popular.

Breakfast drinks include a somewhat weak coffee (unless you order espresso), milk (sometimes raw and straight from the cow), hot chocolate, or tea. In the spring and summer, fresh vegetables and fruits make an appearance at the breakfast table. And in the winter, it's not uncommon for hearty soups like rye-meal zurek to make an appearance.

Romanian Breakfast

A traditional Romanian breakfast would include bread, feta cheese, cold cuts, cucumbers and tomatoes in the summer, and sometimes scrambled or fried eggs. Yogurt and strong, Turkish-style coffee, tea, or fruit juices also are served.

Russian Breakfast

The breakfast spread in a Russian home would undoubtedly include rye bread, possibly butter, and sliced smoked or cured sausage that the diner turns into an open-faced sandwich. Porridge made with buckwheat groats, millet, barley, or another grain (but not so much oatmeal) also is common. Sweet rolls, jams, and other sweets are rarely, if ever, offered (except in hotels). Tea, not coffee, is the favorite morning beverage.

Slovak Breakfast

Breakfast in Slovakia is a hearty affair and includes different breads, butter, ham, cheese, boiled or fried eggs, cold cuts, vegetables, sausages, jam or honey, and sometimes cereal or yogurt.

Other Breakfasts

In Serbia, Bulgaria, Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and parts of Croatia, breakfast usually consists of a sweet or savory pastry filled with cheese, meat, or fruit purée. A very common breakfast is burek with yogurt. As in Poland, open-face sandwiches also are popular for breakfast.