In Mediterranean countries, including Greece, Italy and Spain, people tend to stay up late, typically eating dinner after 9 p.m. For them, morning moves more swiftly as they rush off to work or school. They might grab a cup of coffee with a rusk or a sweet roll to tide them over until 10 a.m. or 11 a.m. At this time, they stop to savor a midmorning snack that prevails as the more substantial breakfast meal and what westerners consider as more typical breakfast fare.
To invoke the ambiance of Greece and its islands, serve a traditional breakfast. Prepare thick Greek coffee sprinkled lightly with cinnamon or black tea sweetened with honey, accompanied by a glass of goat’s milk and a rusk, which is a hard, dried biscuit, called paximathaki in Greek. For a more substantial breakfast, prepare foods such as feta cheese, Greek Kalamata olives and sweet bread, or thick Greek yogurt with honey and freshly cut seasonal fruits. An unhurried breakfast with friends and family includes freshly chopped tomatoes and cucumber with feta cheese, drizzled with olive oil and a sprinkling of freshly ground sea salt and chopped oregano. Add dishes such as spanakopita, a Greek spinach pie and a side plate of dried figs and apricots to complete the breakfast. Further breakfast choices may consist of a tomato or eggplant omelet, Greek phyllo-based pastries such as cream-filled bougatsa or egg bread tsoureki.
To prepare a more traditional Italian breakfast, serve caffe latte, steaming espresso or cappuccino with a dollop of steamed milk and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Accompany these warm drinks with a panino or pastry. Pastry choices include cornetto, an Italian-styled croissant with an orange rind glaze or a breakfast crostata tart filled with fruit preserves. For more a substantial breakfast, try warmed polenta with golden raisins and toasted sliced almonds drizzled with honey, served with fresh fruit. Prepare a zucchini or onion and portobello or cremini mushroom frittata. At room temperature, cut the frittata into thin slices to place between freshly baked crusty rolls.
To serve a traditional Spanish breakfast, begin with a steaming cafe con leche in a tall glass and a freshly baked toasted roll with butter or marmalade with optional slices of ham and soft cheese. Add freshly squeezed orange juice. As an alternative, serve hot and sugary churros to dip into a cup of thick and rich hot chocolate to jump-start the morning, or a selection of warmed chocolate croissants. To dish up a more substantial breakfast, prepare a Spanish tortilla, not to be confused with the Mexican one. Similar to a frittata, a Spanish tortilla is made with eggs and contains potatoes with additions that include tomatoes, peppers and onions. Slices of jamon and other deli meats accompanied with sweet soft cheeses in a roll called bocadillas, little bites can be served or taken on the go.