The most basic form of Japanese-style breakfast. Nick Gatlin/PSU Vanguard

Quarantine Cuisine

The International House of Breakfast

Due to quarantine, most of us no longer have lengthy morning commutes or early morning classes, and have the luxury—curse?—of sleeping in long after we normally would. One unexpected benefit I’ve found in this new sleeping schedule is that I now have all the time I want to make breakfast. No more are the days of cereal and instant breakfast bars. No, this is a time for extravagance. 


Inspired by two videos by YouTuber and Vox videographer Johnny Harris, I began to dip my toes into food other than the typical American breakfast. You know what I mean: diner-style bacon, eggs and pancakes, or sugary cereal with cartoon characters on the box. Due to his job as a global journalist, Harris was exposed to many breakfast traditions from all over the world, none of which were as sweet and dessert-y as the United States’ breakfasts. Here’s what I’ve been experimenting with during my time in quarantine.


Japanese-style breakfast


  • Rice
  • Miso Soup
  • Protein (typically fish)
  • Toppings
  • Various side dishes


Japanese breakfast is by far my favorite, and it’s one of the most satisfying things you can eat in the morning. There’s just something about eating rice at 10 a.m. that’s ridiculously fulfilling.


The base of a Japanese breakfast is rice, miso soup and some form of protein. The rice and the miso soup are incredibly easy to make in bulk, leaving little effort in the mornings. The miso soup is nothing more than cubed tofu, wakame seaweed, dashi broth and miso, simmered until they come together.


For your protein, the traditional dish is some kind of salted fish, such as salmon. You can also use grilled tofu, tempeh, an egg, even bacon if you felt like it. I love to do what I call an “American-style-Japanese-style” breakfast, which is basically a fried egg over rice with little bits of sausage mixed in. 


You can also add any variety of vegetables or fruit to the meal—try green beans in a sesame sauce, cubed strawberries, salted edamame, whatever you like. 


Mediterranean Shakshuka


  • Olive oil
  • Onion
  • Bell Pepper
  • Garlic
  • Cumin
  • Paprika
  • Cayenne
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Eggs


Popular in North Africa and the rest of the Mediterranean, Shakshuka is a spicy, garlicky tomato-saucy egg dish. It’s pretty simple to make: you just saute the onion and pepper, add your spices, stir in your tomatoes then plop in your eggs and move it all into the oven until it’s cooked. It’s about as easy a frittata (foreshadowing?), with the same eggy taste everyone expects in the morning.


All you have to do for this dish is cook the tomato sauce until it comes together, then heat your oven to 375°F. Make sure to use an oven-safe dish for this. Once it’s preheated, nestle your eggs into the sauce, and move the whole pan into the oven, cook for 7–10 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked through with runny yolks, then serve. 


You can serve this with pita or challah, serve it over rice or couscous, or just eat it by itself. Again—super easy, but with an air of extravagance.


Italian Frittata


  • 6 eggs
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup cheese
  • 2 cups vegetables/meat


Frittatas are super easy to make in the morning, and they’re the perfect “clean out the fridge” meal. The basic formula for a frittata is: for every 6 eggs, use ¼ cup of heavy cream or milk, 1 cup of cheese, and 2 cups of various fillings. The cheese can be classic parmesan, or something like cheddar or pepper jack. Your fillings can be anything from leftover bell peppers to bacon to cooked potatoes. A frittata is basically just an omelette pie—you can put anything in it.


Make sure to use an oven-safe pan for this. Start by sautéing any of your fillings that need to be cooked. This includes vegetables like onions, carrots, peppers or anything that needs time to soften. Also cook any meats you put in, excluding cured meat like salami. Once those are cooked through, mix in your 6 scrambled raw eggs and cook them in the pan for 1–2 minutes. Then, move the whole pan to the oven and bake at 400°F for 8–10 minutes, or until set.


That’s it! I would argue a frittata is even easier than an omelette, because you don’t have to worry about flipping it and all of your fillings spilling out. It also gives you the feeling of eating a quiche without actually having to make pie dough.