This morning I was having my semi-Italian breakfast, very different from when I was living with my Dutch friend Roel.
I remember I thought, back then, that there is not much difference between a Dutch breakfast and a Dutch lunch… they both include slices of bread, butter and something to spread on them. Almost impossible to miss peanut butter or “hagelslag” (chocolate sprinkles)!
Having many international friends, we all like to ask how we say something in the different languages, having fun detecting similarities and differences, especially among languages with the same roots (for example, the Romance languages).
So this morning it was “How do you say breakfast?” with my Portuguese friend Nuno. Well, a new world opened to me, we got curious about how the rest of the world identifies the first meal of the day. Google Translate is your friend, in this case, but also Wikipedia.
So, there is the part of the world that interrupts a fasting:
English: breakfast, indeed.
Spanish: desayuno (ayuno = fasting).
Latin: ientaculum, meal that you have on an empty stomach.
Vulgar Latin: disieiunare, to interrupt the fast.
There is some who eats with moderation:
French: petit déjeuner, a small (petit) lunch (déjeuner), but this word originally means “fasting”, in French “jeune”.
German: Frühstück, a piece (Stück) you eat early (früh).
Portuguese: pequeno-almoço, small lunch.
There is some who eat it in the morning:
Dutch: ontbijt, start to bite (Afrikaans: ontbyt).
Croatian: doručak, before lunch (ručak).
Danish: morgenmad, food of the morning
Swedish: frukost, from Low Saxon vrokost, first meal.
Japanese: 朝食, asa (morning) gohan (meal).
Chinese: 早餐, zao (early) and can (meal).
Turkish: kahvaltı, kahve (before) and altı (coffee).
Greek: πρωινό, morning.
Albanian: mëngjes, morning.
Sure frugality is not part of our culinary tradition. Interrupting a fasting, like English and Spanish say? And when did exactly this fasting started?!
A small meal, like Germans and French? You gotta be kidding me…
In Italian, breakfast is “colazione“. This word comes from Latin collationem (from collàtus, past participle of cònfero, contribute), the habit to collect many courses together. No wonder that colazione and collection have the same origin.
But this word referred to the meal in the evening… How did it move to the early morning?
It seems that collationes was the title of a… collection of interviews by st. Giovanni Cassiano about the rules of Christian monks, and aforementioned collection was read by the monks during their first meeting in the morning.
This word probably kept on indicating the first moment of the day when the relatives of the family meet to discuss duties and chores of the new day.
How much history behind a simple word…
Now a fun video of American kids trying breakfasts from around the world. At minute 3 you can see their reaction in front of a “beschuit met hageslag”!