American Breakfast Traditions

By Jason Bell

Waking up to the smell of spattering bacon and warm toast can start even rough mornings off right. Breakfast is an important meal for both the body and soul-it gets the metabolism up-and-running and fortifies the spirit for the day. Across the country, breakfast traditions capture regional spirit, illustrating rich culinary diversity on a single plate.

In Cooperstown, New York, the Baseball Hall of Fame commands the more attention than surrounding restaurants and candy shops. A few blocks away from the Hall's soaring brick edifice, however, is a little diner that looks like a relic from a gentler, simpler era. The Cooperstown Diner serves classic American breakfast food-biscuits and gravy, eggs over easy, coffee that's too black for the cream and sugar crowd. Their speciality, grilled muffins, come off the griddle caramelized and crunchy.

Down state, New Yorkers love a bagel with lox for breakfast. Russ & Daughters, a venerable storefront on West Houston Street, has been serving smoked fish since 1914. Piled onto a chewy bagel with dollops of cream cheese, their lox hits the spot on a bleary-eyed New York Morning.

Midwestern breakfast specials tend towards the heavier side of the spectrum. Sticky buns and sausage dominate menus from the Great Lakes down to Missouri. Usually served in diners after midnight, "the slinger" is a popular St. Louis breakfast dish. Hamburgers and eggs get covered in chili for a seriously filling breakfast experience.

Eaten by cops on '70s sitcoms and still consumed in enormous volume today, doughnuts are a quintessential American breakfast food. In Vermont, fresh apple cider gets mixed into the batter before frying, while in New Orleans beignets rule the breakfast scene. Try this recipe for spiced banana donuts if a morning craving strikes.

An American breakfast is an honest meal-it rouses the senses and begins the day with a dose of homestyle comfort. To read about a breakfast dish in every state, click here.