The Real Story on Mexico's Mealtimes? First, Let's Have Breakfast

Last Updated: October 12, 2012 by
Categories: Mexico

Pan dulce Several times a month, Mexico Cooks! receives vacation-time queries from folks in the United States about mealtimes and what's eaten when in Mexico. It can be challenging to plan a trip to any country, including Mexico, where mealtimes are different from what you might think of as 'normal'. This week and for the next two weeks here at Mexico Cooks!, you'll learn more about meals and mealtimes.

It can be even more challenging for anyone raised in one frame of reference to understand that breakfast isn't always about what you have always thought of as your first meal of the day. Many years ago, when I was first living in Mexico, the light bulb came on for me: breakfast food is whatever you happen to eat for breakfast. You know how leftover pizza straight from the refrigerator is a guilty breakfast for a lot of people in the States? A slice is really a perfectly adequate breakfast. Lots of Mexican breakfasts are just like that: whatever food is available at the moment.

People in Mexico frequently eat two morning meals. The first is desayuno, which comes from the root word ayunar, to fast. Desayuno literally means "I un-fast" and is ordinarily eaten first thing in the morning, maybe before work while you are standing in the pre-dawn kitchen thinking about the coming day on the job or gobbled while you are hurrying the kids into their school uniforms. This breakfast consists of something quick and simple or a smear of yesterday's frijolitos refritos on a leftover tortilla, washed down with a glass of fresh orange juice; a pan dulce still hot from the corner bakery, accompanied by a cup of Nescafé (Mexico's ubiquitous instant coffee). It's just enough to help your brain kick into gear.

Click here for photos and descriptions of common Mexican breakfasts