Day 76: Guatemalan breakfasts #2

Overland miles: 3909 Tacocount: 68 Days without Sodas: 4

Following on from part one of our tour of the finest starts to the Guatemalan day, we take you on a riotous ride through our favourite breakfasts in this part of the world, taking in a ritual at our home-stay – pancakes and fruit – as well as a more traditional daily warm-up (porridge oats) and finishing up with the least authentic Guatemalan breakfast ever – but possibly the most satisfying – the Full English. Roll ’em boys!

They may not be a breakfast regular at many a Guatemaltecan’s house, but they sure turned up at our homestay all the time. Panceques con frutas (American-style pancakes and fruit) go together like the proverbial horse and carriage, and when I (with hindsight) mistakenly lavished too much praise on the combo Maria, our house mum, served up on our first morning, she took that as the green light to make three of those bad boys for us every other day, alongide a pile of papaya, melon and banana. We should really have run a pancake count on the daily stats for the month we studied in San Pedro, but the results would have made us kinda quesy. Pancakes are definitely a treat breakfast, one you should be having at the weekend with a fresh pot of coffee and no more. We must have put on a stone each during our home-stay, the majority of which was from the pancakes.

Huevos Montados con frutas, pan tostada y mermalada

Feverishly snapping all our home-stay meals would clearly be inappropriate, so the above shot was taken at the Tipico Imperio restaurant in Flores, El Peten. This dish is called Huevos Montados – in that the eggs are ‘mounted’ on the pancakes, and they were a delicious combination. The fruit took a bit of a back seat on this one, but that didn’t matter as there was plenty of rich strawberry jam (which sounds confusingly like ‘marmalade’) in attendance. This dish is notable by the absence of frijoles – which PFB regulars will remember from other plates ad nauseum.

One of the more enjoyable non-pancake related breakfasts we experienced was the Scottish classic: porridge oats. Except locally it’s referred to as mush and comes without salt, very sweet and quite runny. It was served with a sweet, dryish roll that was fantastic for dunking, and the few times we had it, really set us up for our school day. Clare also tried it with cinnamon, pumpkin seeds and perhaps a little too much honey at vegetarian hangout Home. It was also great before a brisk jog to the black sand beach down by the lake, which we definitely needed to do more often after all those pancakes. Below is Cafe Atitlan’s much thicker version, served with cold milk and a banana.

Avena (‘Mush’) con leche y platano, cafe con leche

Finally for the Guatemalan edition of Latin American breakfasts, we bring you a dish we probably won’t find anywhere else, or at least not in such epic proportions. The Lonely Planet describes it as “the big breakfast fry-up [that] will make Brits weep with homesickness”. It’s served by The Alegre pub, a Scottish-owned little piece of Blighty on the shores of Lake Atitlan. Maria cooks amazingly well for gringos, but even she in her wildest dreams would not have conceived of cooking up this artery-busting number whilst we stayed with her family. It is of course the Full English, and it’s possibly the largest version I have ever consumed (and I’ve polished off the Arsenal Cafe‘s Mega Breakfast #4).

The Alegre’s Large Full English in all its regal glory

You have here all the essential requirements of a decent fry-up: huevos suaves (three of ’em – runny the way there should be), some pretty decent chipolatas, 4 strips of perfectly crispy bacon, some tomatoes (tinned unfortunately but still sweet and juicy), browned off ‘shrooms and a whole mountain of thin-sliced fried potatoes. The only non-essential (IMHO) ingredient on the plate – the baked beans – were a poor approximation of the Heinz style beloved by Brits everywhere, but they did the decent thing and stayed right there in the centre of the plate, rather than swamping all the other elements of the dish. The toast was a little bit of a let-down as well: I should really have been allowed to choose white – providing a sweeter base for the salty ingredients on the plate – and for a ‘large’ English breakfast I could have expected two slices. But these are minor quibbles. It was a majestic breakfast for my last day in San Pedro, fit for for the Queen herself. But as neither she nor Clare were keen to share it with me, I happily devoured it all on my own, humming ‘Jerusalem’ under my breath, my eyes perhaps slightly moist with nostalgia.

Alas (very much like the red enchiladas in Mexico) with time not on our side once we left Maria and Jose’s, I failed to track down the classic Guate breakfast El Chapin, sporting Tecpan sausage as the hero ingredient. I’ll leave you with a great shot of this dish from Antiguadailyphoto.com and my earnest pledge to do better in future. ‘Til the next time, breakfast-lovers!

El Chapin

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