Rise and dine

There are several ways to savour and customise your first meal of the day

Research dictates that human beings have to eat in the morning to get fuel for the day. It's clear that breakfast is important and we shouldn't skip it. The time we spend sleeping overnight is time spent without nutritional intake. If you omit the first meal of the day, you might feel more weakened and, in the worst of scenarios, prone to sickness.

People with demanding urban lives could argue that they simply don't have the time to make and eat a proper breakfast. When they're bracing themselves to battle heavy traffic on the way to work, a cup of coffee is about as much as they can manage. In this case, making it to the office on time takes priority over fostering healthy habits.

How can we treat ourselves to a great breakfast and beat the clock at the same time? How can we make our first meal of the day less time-consuming, less of an inconvenience and more of a pleasure?

True breakfast enthusiasts know that the first meal of the day doesn't have to be served in the house. They don't have to do the cooking themselves.

For example, congee lovers flock to Sam Yan for the renowned congee shop that opens at 5am. Next to the shop is a stall serving pa tong ko -- a fried doughnut dish -- and hot soybean milk.

The earlier you go for your Sam Yan breakfast, the better. The less traffic to deal with, the less stress you'll suffer. Besides, morning is a peaceful and breezy time of day.

If you don't fancy congee, the Sam Yan area also offers many other options like kaw mun kai, tom leud moo and kaw kaeng, served at stalls and restaurants open from 5am too.

Coffee drinkers will enjoy Thai-style coffee too. The freshly made drink goes well with boiled eggs and pa tong ko, offering you plenty of fuel for your day.

If your office is located in the north of Bangkok, it doesn't make much sense to dip down south to Sam Yan for breakfast. Still, that's no excuse to skip the first meal of the day.

You have options. For one, you can use a microwave to heat up instant food from the convenience store. It's also likely that there will be some food sold in the canteen or vendors nearby your office with grilled pork skewers with sticky rice, fried chicken, spring rolls or other quick dishes like fried pork with basil and rice. These are only some simple examples.

As for people living upcountry, breakfast is something that they cannot live without. They normally prepare the meal in the evening and warm it up to eat in the morning when they start cooking the sticky rice, a time-consuming task. These preparations prompt them to get up early and give them a chance to make offerings for monks. Households offer food to the monks first. Afterwards, the family sits and eats together before starting the day's work.

In the South, breakfast clubs are an integral part of daily life. People generally meet at cafes for a cup of morning coffee with a grilled banana leaf wrap stuffed with sticky rice.

Occasionally, they will have rice noodles with southern curry.

The morning appears to be people's preferred time to meet up. They treat it as a time to catch up and chatter casually about the state of politics.

People in the southern provinces along the Andaman Sea -- Phuket, Krabi, Trang and Songkhla -- enjoy Chinese-style breakfasts, from congee to dim sum.

In Trang, people like grilled pork, one of the province's famous dishes. Other than that, most people from these provinces err towards rice and curry. Several districts also specialise in Muslim food like roti and beef or fish curry -- each of them delicious options.

But back to the city dwellers -- those based in urban areas are advised to keep ham, bacon, canned tuna, eggs, ground pork, fruits and vegetables on them. Eating out can be a fuss for some, so it's good to stack your cupboards at home.

Boiled rice with ground pork is an easy dish to prepare, taking 15 minutes at most. You start by boiling rice -- you can even use leftover rice from last night -- and then grind the marinated pork. You then season it with fried garlic, coriander and onion. You can also add an egg for a nutritious touch.

If this is too time-consuming for you, I would suggest whipping up an omelette to pair with a slice of toast. You can also make a sandwich by slicing boiled egg and spreading some mayonnaise on the bread. This should take you a maximum of 10 minutes.

The weekends call for more extravagant breakfasts. Pancakes make a great option or you can try a breakfast sandwich. A bagel with salmon, cream cheese, onion and capers is a classic. You can make this more special by eating banana, watermelon or dragon fruit after the main meal.

There are many ways to have a wholesome and satisfying breakfast. Choose the way that is most convenient for your lifestyle and your health. To make it yourself is likely the most easy, healthy and economically savvy option. Besides, you can eat with your family.

The company you keep, besides the food itself, can help you start your day just right.


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