American, Irish breakfasts indulge tastebuds in feasts of culture

A traditional Irish breakfast includes soda bread, bacon and black pudding, among other things. Photo illustration courtesy of Grace Cusick

By Nathan Tran | Guest Contributor

Ireland, a country with striking green scenery and extensive history, is a rich place for any food lover. A person visiting Ireland can find a delicious meal at a pub or restaurant on any street corner. One of the dishes Ireland is best known for is its famous full Irish breakfast.

“I am a big breakfast person,” Walter McDonald, a student at Villanova University, said. “It’s my favorite meal of the day. I have enjoyed seeing the differences in the breakfast for both cultures.”

McDonald visited Ireland from August to early December of 2021. While studying abroad in Ireland, he was able to experience a culture that was different from what he was used to in America. Being a “big breakfast person,” he said he was drawn to how both countries interpreted the first meal of the day.

“Breakfast in Ireland is practically your standard farmer’s breakfast,” McDonald said.

McDonald said the full Irish breakfast is quite different from its American counterpart but also has some key similarities. Like a normal American breakfast, the full Irish breakfast consists of the usual bacon, sausage, hashbrowns, eggs, toast and jam “that most of us Americans grew up with.”

Though on paper the similarities are there, McDonald said he noticed there are small differences in how Ireland prefers its breakfast.

“The bacon was more like Canadian bacon,” McDonald said. “The sausage was more legit and less processed. Hashbrowns weren’t as salty or greasy. They prefer over-easy eggs over scrambled, and the jam was fresh. Some parts of an Irish breakfast might be off-putting to the normal American visitor.”

He said the Irish classic was different from a standard American breakfast in the way that they eat mushrooms and sliced tomatoes with their breakfast.

“Sometimes they throw in baked beans,” McDonald said. “The biggest difference has to be the black or white pudding. I liked it, but I would also eat anything,”

Black and white pudding is what makes an Irish breakfast distinct from those of most other countries. Both are made up of bacon and pork, but the main difference between black and white pudding is that black pudding includes the added ingredient of blood.

“It’s actually my favorite part of the Irish breakfast,” Ireland native Ciaran Moran said.

Moran has lived in Ireland for about 23 years and is very well accustomed to the Irish breakfast. He has also visited the United States and said he noticed many of the same similarities and differences between both cultures’ breakfasts.

“An American breakfast is sweeter,” Moran said. “I definitely could not have it often. An Irish breakfast is a lot more like a meal.”

Everyone, everywhere, has their own interpretation of their first meal of the day. Some love a healthy stack of pancakes, while others might throw in two or three black puddings on the side. Every culture is different, and it’s always good to explore. Breakfast is a staple in many people’s lives — some even considering it the most important meal of the day. Though everyone won’t always agree on everything, at least we all love breakfast.