Japan has a culture that embraces all things small. And it should be no surprise that compactness, minimalism and simplicity are valued in this less-than-spacious island nation, given that it’s home to more than 127 million residents.
This fondness for the art of tiny found its way onto my plate one morning—unexpectedly, I might add. I was having breakfast in a little cafe near the Fukuoka Convention Center in the city of the same name, and in a moment of weakness and unoriginality, I ordered the American breakfast, which said it included eggs, potatoes and my choice of soft or hard bread. (My boss explained that this meant either a roll/croissant or toast.)
Not Exactly Home-Style
When my plate came out, all of those things were indeed present—but scarcely so. Two spoonfuls of eggs were snuggled up next to a couple of skinny potato spears. The plate was livened up with a few meager steamed vegetables, obviously meant more for show than for consumption.
It’s not that I was disappointed by so little an offering—I tend to eat modest portions at breakfast—I was simply surprised at how unfamiliar this arrangement was, even though it bore the name of something I knew very well.
A truly American breakfast is a celebration of overindulgence and excess. Most of us in the States have ordered plates from our favorite local greasy spoon diner that feature the following: a massive mound of charred hashbrowns that would typically dominate the dish, leaving little room for a pile of salty eggs—those cholesterol demons—and a couple of thick slices of toast soaked in butter.
But no, that was not what I found here. What I did find were light, fluffy, buttery eggs, tender potatoes and a burst of flavor from the tomato and broccoli. The mini-croissant wasn’t blessed with the same flakiness you might find in the Parisian variety, but it was tasty nonetheless. I finished off the small meal and sat sipping my coffee—satisfied, but not overly full. For those who think less is more, An American breakfast in Japan might be just the thing.