Wake up to a Guatemalan Breakfast

Guatemalans consider breakfast and lunch to be the most important meals of the day. These meals are usually larger than the evening meal. Families with school-age children pay special attention to serving nutritious breakfasts. Balance and quality are both important.

Guatemala food

Because fresh fruits and vegetables are abundant and varied in Guatemala, it’s easy to make a nourishing meal during a busy morning. Guatemalan breakfast dishes are simple but tasty and wholesome.

Mosh (creamy whole oats with cinnamon and milk) is a favorite of the young and the old. Eggs are prepared in many styles depending on the day of the week. On weekdays they can be soft-boiled, hard-boiled or scrambled. On the weekend, they can be huevos estrellados con chirmol frito (eggs sunny-side up with tomato and onion pan sauce) or huevos revueltos con tomate y cebolla ó tortilla (scrambled eggs with tomatoes and onions or corn tortilla bits).

The typical accompaniments for eggs are black beans in any style and either corn tortillas or Guatemalan-style French bread (an elongated crusty loaf divided into bun-like sections, with a delicious gummy core).

Another breakfast option for the weekend or for brunch is panqueques con miel de abeja (pancakes with honey). These are medium-thick crepe-like cakes that can be made in minutes. Pan fried plantains are a good complement to any meal. For heavier appetites, Guatemalan chorizo and longaniza sausages make a great side.

In my grandmother’s town in the countryside, tamalitos de elote (fresh corn and butter mini-tamales topped with fresh cream) were a very special treat. She made them especially when we had visitors.

Guineo mojoncho con leche was another favorite breakfast dish. This is red-skinned bananas grilled over charcoals, peeled, cut into chunks, mashed, and added to hot milk in a bowl. We ate this dish like cereal. At school, whole (not rolled) oats were cooked in milk.

Traditional breakfast drinks include freshly squeezed orange juice and licuados (blended drinks made with seasonal fresh fruit and milk). Guatemalan café con leche (coffee with hot milk) is also popular.

Here is an easy and delicious recipe that is very near and dear to my heart.

Guatemala breakfast

HUEVOS REVUELTOS CON TOMATE Y CEBOLLA

Scrambled Eggs with Tomatoes and Onions (recipe by Amalia Moreno-Damgaard)

Guatemala food

This recipe is as Guatemalan as corn tortillas. Try it when you’re getting tired of the same old scrambled eggs. Guatemalans modify the recipe in many ways. For example, sometimes people add corn tortilla bits or cooked chorizo instead of tomatoes and onions. Accompany the eggs with Frijoles Chapines (Guatemalan black beans any style) and Tortillas de Maíz (corn tortillas).

Or serve the eggs atop a panfried corn tortilla with beans on the side. You can also modify this recipe by making the eggs sunny side up and using the onion and tomato comb.
Serves 2 people

2 large or 3 small eggs
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 1/2 tablespoons finely diced Roma tomatoes
1 tablespoon finely diced yellow onion
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Beat the eggs until fluffy and set aside.

2. Add the oil to a heated medium nonstick skillet. Add the tomatoes and onion and season with salt. Cook at medium heat until saucy and thick, (about 3 minutes). Taste and adjust salt, if needed.

3. Add the eggs and combine well with the sauce. Continue to cook until eggs are cooked and smooth (2 to 3 minutes).

Dulces Típicos, Traditional Guatemalan Candy

Dulces típicos began very shortly after the Spanish arrived in Guatemala in 1524.

Candy brings back memories of our childhoods and a sense of joy. It is engrained in our cultural heritage. We always associate candy with sugar, which may have originated in the Polynesian Islands over 5,000 years ago. It migrated to India, Alexander the Great took it to Ancient Greece and then Rome, and the Arabs took sugar cane to Spain and Portugal as a highly profitable crop.

Introduced to the island of Hispaniola by Christopher Columbus in 1493, the crop flourished as he reported it grew faster there than any other place in the world! It was first cultivated in Guatemala by the Dominicans at Hacienda San Jerónimo in the 1550s. It is in all of the dulce típicos (popular candies) of Guatemala today.

Dulces TípicosDulces Típicos de leche. photos by Luis Toribio

Dulces típicos began very shortly after the Spanish arrived in Guatemala in 1524. Many of them are of Arabic ancestry, including bocadillos, nuégados, cocadas (cononut candies), mazapanes, (marzipans), canillas de leche (milk legs), colochos de guayaba (guava curls), huevos chimbo (candied eggs), frutas cristalizadas (candied fruit), zapotillos (zapotillo plums), tartaritas (tarlets), quiebradientes (hard taffy), pepitorias (pumpkin seeds), suspiros, paciencias, africanos and besitos, all known as “dry confectionary.”

References to a Confectionary Guild (Gremio de Confiteros) go as far back as 1613. Throughout Latin American, nuns (particularly those from Santa Clara and Capuchinas) made popular candies and other fabulous desserts for sale. With the arrival of coffee to the country in the 1870s, caramelos de café con leche were added.

Dulces TípicosHigos / Figs

Popular candies are also sold in front of churches for the local fiestas and fairs. After a visit to the local church, traditional Guatemalan candies are purchased. These include maletas de higo (candied figs), sweet potato, chilacayote (pumpkin), melcochas (pulled taffy) and batido (taffy).

These are only a few candies, as 224 recipes are included in a cookbook manuscript from 1844 dedicated to Dolores Zelaya de O’Meany. More than 90 varieties remain popular today.

While in La Antigua Guatemala, visit the famous store of doña María Gordillo (4a calle oriente #11), whose family received the CNPAG Diego de Porres Gold Award for maintaining the traditional of candy-making in Guatemala. Other popular stores are La Casa (7a calle oriente #20-A) and El Sombrerón (4a calle poniente #11 and 4a calle oriente #24). Dulces típicos have been made the same traditional way for centuries.

Dulces Típicos