One of the first things I happily adapted to in Kinmen was the widely-available variety of breakfasts. When I arrived to the rural, isolated area of Ding Bao, the first place I found open besides the 7-11 was a breakfast store. In general, Taiwan is filled with convenient, ready-to-go breakfast providers that far exceed those in America. In the U.S., besides driving to a McDonalds or Starbucks to grab a breakfast sandwich and coffee, there are not many convenient breakfast options. However, here in Kinmen, I can count five or more open breakfast places when I walk down one block.
One of the more surprising features of all these eateries is that they open early in the morning and close before lunch. In America, most breakfast providers stay open all day, offering different meals as the day goes on. The classic server of American breakfasts is the diner, which is usually is open 24 hours or very late into the night. These diners usually offer breakfast all day long in addition to typical items like burgers, sandwiches and pies.
Also, breakfast is generally a sit-down meal. Although there are usually ways of eating on the go, breakfast, whether it is a bowl of cereal or eggs, is traditionally eaten at a table, probably because most standard American breakfast foods require a plate and utensils.
In both Taiwan and the U.S. eggs are a common breakfast item, but Taiwanese eateries usually wrap their eggs in a savory green onion "pancake" or "danbing" so it can be eaten by hand. American egg dishes, whether scrambled or fried or in an omelet, are served on a plate with cured meats like bacon or ham, and with some potatoes like shredded hash browns or roasted home fries. All of these foods require utensils and a longer amount of time to eat.
Additionally, I found that Taiwanese breakfasts rarely contain sweet items except in buns or in drinks like soymilk or black tea, and both can be consumed on the move. A significant portion of American breakfasts are devoted to sweet tasting foods. While there are several coffee shops in Kinmen offering waffles, I find they are treated more like a dessert item than as a morning meal. Other sweet breakfast dishes in America include French toast and pancakes, all of which require forks and knives.
Despite all of these differences, Taiwanese breakfasts have become one of my favorite meals of the day. Theve's always something different to order, and the best of all, they're convenient and always delicious!
Recipe: Overnight Oatmeal
A recent trend in healthy American cooking, overnight oats are prepared the night before and don't require any cooking. This makes it an easy and almost ready-to-go breakfast! Be careful not to use instant oatmeal, since this will cause a mushy texture.
1/2 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
1/2 cup of milk (cow's milk or soy milk)
1 tablespoon of chia seeds (optional, but they absorb any excess liquid to prevent a mushy texture. Plus, they're very health, full of Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, and fiber).
1 pinch of salt
I stir everything together in a plastic container, put the lid on, and place in the fridge overnight. You can also put it in a bowl, and cover it with plastic wrap. The next morning, I top the oatmeal with raisins, maple syrup or honey, and some more milk, and begin eating!
The great thing about this recipe is how easy it is to customize. You can stir in yogurt for a thicker texture. For different flavors, you can add peanut butter, cocoa powder, jam, etc…