With Taco Bell’s upcoming Waffle Taco monstrosity, I think America really needs to take a step back and remember what breakfast used to be. Here are some common breakfast menu items that you will see at most diners and breakfast joints across the country.
Some over easy eggs with steak, home fries, and buttery toast. South Street Diner – Boston, MA.
For starters, a very common and basic breakfast combination includes eggs, breakfast meat, and toast. Breakfast meat usually means the choice of bacon or sausage, but nowadays Canadian bacon (thick cut ham) and turkey sausage (less fat than the usual pork sausage) are common as well. Eggs are a savory breakfast staple and can be ordered any style you like including sunny side up, over easy, fried, scrambled, or poached. Toast is usually given the choice of white or whole wheat and served buttered with small packets of grape jellies, strawberry jams, or orange marmalades. Many diners also serve these combinations with a side of home fries, which are chopped potatoes stir fried with onions and peppers. If you’re in the South, you may even have the choice of grits, a ground corn cereal, or biscuits and gravy as a side.
Here’s a variation of Eggs Benedict with home fries, grits, and a side of biscuit. Lucile’s – Denver, CO.
Omelets are also common diner choices and are basically whisked eggs with an assortment of toppings. For example, a Western omelet contains ham and peppers, while a Spanish omelet is served with a tomato salsa. Another popular egg entrée is Eggs Benedict. Eggs Benedict is a pair of poached eggs stacked on a slice of Canadian ham over an open English muffin topped with a yellow buttery tangy Hollandaise sauce.
Pancakes dusted with powdered sugar served with eggs, home fries, sausage AND toast. Paramount – Boston, MA
Now onto the sweet breakfasts. An unmistakable American breakfast classic is the pancake, which is also known as the flapjack, the hotcake, or the griddlecake. Pancakes are thin fluffy round browned cakes made from a thick batter. They can be made with fruit, nuts, or chocolate and eaten with butter, maple syrup, and even a side of bacon. My favorite pancake combination is chocolate chip banana pancakes. French toast is also a sweet breakfast choice and is made with thick cut toast dipped in egg then pan fried and served with syrup. But I think my favorite carbohydrate-fueled breakfast choice is the waffle. The come thick and thin, but are characterized by their grid like wells. They are also served with fruit and syrup and even whipped cream.
Hands down the best thin waffles you can get are at Waffle House. Waffle House – Lehigh, PA
Other breakfast choices you see on American menus include hot and cold cereals. Hot cereals tend to be oatmeal, which can be ordered with cinnamon and raisins or milk and honey, and cold cereals can range from cornflakes to granola served with milk and sometimes even yogurt.
Though bagels were originally associated with Jewish immigrants, there is no question that the nation is infatuated with these chewy round bread rings. You can get them at many diners with lox (cured salmon) and cream cheese or perhaps bacon, egg, and cheese. Bagels are just that versatile.
There’s no better place to eat bagels than in New York City. Trust me. Here’s a sausage egg and cheese with tomato on a toasted everything bagel and another toasted everything bagel with lox spread. Pick-A-Bagel – New York, NY
As for beverages, it is needless to say that America has a serious coffee obsession. Pretty much the moment you walk into a diner, a server will approach your table with a coffee pot asking if you would like to start your meal off with some fresh hot coffee. If you don’t like coffee, you can always order tea or orange juice.
Now do you have a better understanding of what to expect from an American breakfast? From here on out, your hardest decision should be between getting a sweet or savory breakfast!
Linda Y. Yung is a die-hard New Yorker working towards a career in dietetics with lofty goals of improving the American diet. She is a proud double Jumbo at Tufts University, having received her Bachelor of Arts in International Relations and her Master of Science in Food Policy and Applied Nutrition. Linda can also be described as any of the following: aspiring jet-setter, amateur tai chi master, or a hopelessly addicted NBA fanatic. She can be reached at www.lettucespoon.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.