When Breakfast isn’t just Breakfast

Story by Zian Ang

For my very first journalism class, everyone was asked to get together in pairs to conduct mini interviews with each other to get used to conducting interviews with strangers.

I swiveled my chair around, and there my partner was. Skinny, blonde, and in a baseball cap, he asked: “What’s your favorite breakfast?”

It was a simple question, and yet I struggled with its answer – I blame this on the fact that I was born, raised and lived in Malaysia for the first 18 years of my life.

If you didn’t know, us Malaysians take pride in our food, and we take it very seriously. Coming from a multiracial country with three major races – specifically Chinese, Indian and Malay- I can say with absolute certainty that Malaysians are spoiled with choices when it comes to the most important meal of the day.

If you searched for a typical American breakfast on Google, it is everything you’d expect to see: eggs, bacon, sausages, pancakes, toast and of course, a glass of orange juice. Sure, crispy strips of bacon and fluffy pancakes drenched in maple syrup may sound like the best breakfast idea after an intoxicated night out, but you don’t know what you’re missing out on. If you searched for a typical Malaysian breakfast instead, the articles and pictures that appear further proves my point.

Of course, I had to explain the richness of Malaysia’s food culture to him.

Breakfast isn’t just breakfast for the most of us. Breakfast back home could either mean having a piping hot bowl of noodles in pork broth, or a simple plate of Nasi Lemak, a Malay dish traditionally served in a plate of coconut milk rice, Malay chilli paste, fried anchovies, sliced cucumbers and a hard boiled egg at roadside stalls. For a heavier meal, we could also stuff ourselves full with dim sum – think of it as Asian tapas – or get our hands dirty devouring a hearty plate of banana leaf rice along with generous servings of Indian curry.

We are so spoiled with choices that it’s tough to be decisive about where to go for a meal.

Just so you know, his favorite breakfast was of a typical American – a simple bowl of cereal with milk. 

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