Incredible Breakfast Trends

New York City Melting Pot

Hundreds of immigrant groups have come to America in the pursuit of happiness, and in so doing helped to create the nation we know today. Italian, Chinese, Jewish, Irish, Lebanese, Polish, Vietnamese — sometimes entire villages found new homes in the Land of Opportunity and brought their customs, culture and cuisine with them. More than 12 million of these pioneers entered the U.S. through Ellis Island and today their descendants account for nearly half of the American population.*

Many of the 12 million stayed in New York and began new lives in communities that spoke their language, followed their customs and ate their foods. The city has remained one made up of ethnic neighborhoods, each with its own cuisine.

Marcel Proust once observed that after nothing is left to us of an old past, smell and taste still remain, and “if we get a whiff of a long-forgotten smell, we are suddenly intoxicated.” These smells must surely have helped sustain and comfort immigrants who left everything behind to begin a new life, and their authenticity continues to energize New Yorkers today.

Breakfasts influenced by ethnic cuisines are arguably the most interesting meals. We tend to be familiar with ethnic dinners – e.g., ravioli or kung pao chicken – but are less familiar with other countries’ morning meals. The 2015 National Restaurant Association survey of American Culinary Federation chefs found ethnic-inspired breakfast items to be a top American restaurant hot trend (#16) for the fifth straight year, with authentic ethnic breakfasts right behind in the breakfast category. A few have become familiar: think huevos rancheros. Others, like chilaquiles or Shakshuka, are in their ascendency.

The following are examples of ethnic-inspired NYC breakfasts that have begun to spread to other parts of the country:

  • Shakshuka: made with eggs poached in a sauce of tomatoes, chili peppers, onions and spices (Balaboosta)
    Showing up at Sound Bites in Boston, as Jimmy’s Moroccan Eggs, three eggs nested in a pan of sautéed tomato, onion, peppers and cumin.
  • Poached Eggs With Curried Lentils, Yogurt & Cilantro: (The Breslin)
    Exported by The Mud House in St. Louis, whose management liked this so much, they menu a very similar item called The Breslin.
  • Salmon Latka Eggs Benedict: salmon and two poached eggs on top of potato pancakes with capers and green onion (Veselka)
    Translated by Benedict’s in West Dundee, Illinois, as Smoked Salmon Benedict with smoked salmon, two poached eggs and finished with caper hollandaise sauce.

Examples of NYC cuisine ripe to be discovered on menus throughout the country include:

  • Jamaican Rancheros: eggs over easy, plantains, stew peas and Scotch bonnet pepper (Miss Lilly’s)
  • Brisket & Egg: braised beef brisket, Moroccan tomato jam, fried egg, cilantro, arugula, pickled onion, preserved lemon and tahini (Taboonette)
  • Shrimp & Kimchi Fried Rice: with two eggs and grilled pork belly (The Dutch)
  • Soft Scrambled Eggs: with asparagus, guanciale and Pecorino (North End Grill)
  • Egg Sandwich: croissant with egg, Manchego cheese, Brussels sprouts and sriracha (Joseph Leonard)

In case New York, the “City That Never Sleeps,” ever does go to bed, these are dishes worth getting up for. They embody the international feel of the place, the excitement of being part of a vibrant culinary scene. Breakfast curry? Sure. Oyster omelet or breakfast egg pizza with crème fraîche and caramelized onion? Why not? Eggs with kimchi, Scotch bonnet peppers or preserved lemon? Yes, yes and yes.

Traditional American scrambled eggs and bacon can certainly be found in NYC. But why bother looking? When in New York, do as the New Yorkers do: revel in the culinary equivalent of the United Nations and in the rich heritage of the immigrants who brought us a literal melting pot.

* The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc.


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