Breakfast shouldn’t be such a difficult meal. It should be simple. You should be able to stumble out of bed, get yourself into whatever sort of state you need to be in and assemble/eat. Unfortunately, it’s rarely that simple wherever you are. In Italy, however, breakfast takes on a whole new challenge, especially for us foreigners.
Breakfast in Italy is, for Americans, every kid’s dream. You’re finally allowed to have dessert for breakfast! Cookies are perfectly acceptable, as are doughnuts and cake. You can have pie or, if you aren’t too hungry, a juice box. I know, I know, it baffles the American breakfast mind. Where’s the protein? The produce? The whole grain? At home, my friend, at home.
I was worried about this constant bombardment of sugar-laden breakfasts as I began to travel around Italy with my parents. Would I really be able to sustain such a diet without wanting to cry/go insane? Probably not. Although I might be able to tolerate
more than my fair share of sugar, I hate the taste of unmitigated sweet. To me, Italy taste of unmitigated sweet.
Luckily, hotel breakfasts came to the rescue, most of the time. After staying at several hotels and seeing a wide variety of breakfast possibilites, my parents and I have devised a couple hints and tips to help you get the most out of your free, healthy-if-you-want-it breakfast. True, we’ve had more than our fair share of duds, but even when all is on offer is marmalade made with more sugar than fruit, cereals of dubious origin and long-preserved milk, you can eek something out to fuel you through a long morning of touring.
1. Mom says: “Don’t rely on what’s being served to you.” My mother is the one who makes sure we bring packets of peanut butter, kale granola and an assortment of fruit and nuts. Although it seems silly, we finished all of them during our trip. Be prepared.
2. Emilia says: “Make sure your breakfast looks like breakfast, not dessert.” With cake, cookies and brioche on the breakfast spread, it’s tempting to have dessert for breakfast, but that’s not going to help fuel you through your day. Ditch the pastry items and look for yogurt, whole grain bread, cheese and muesli/un-sugary cereals. A piece of fruit is fine as well.
3. Dad says: “Avoid the brioche with a smooth surface. Avoid the fruit yogurt.” The smooth brioches are packaged and chemically tasting, completely not worth the calories in your day. The fruit yogurts are similarly chemically tasting and sugary. Just, use your brain.
4. Mom says: “Take the tea. Avoid the cappuccino.” The cappuccini are made with long-preserved milk and adding a sugar is the only thing that will make it palatable. Forget tasting the robusta-laden coffee in this milky concoction.
5. Mom says: “Forget Italian breakfasts, go to Copenhagen instead.” We certainly had a legendary breakfast in Copenhagen.
What’s your advice for eating breakfast when traveling? What do you think of the Italian breakfast?