The French greet the first light of day with a light meal. French breakfast foods consist primarily of small portions, airy pastries and sweet treats. Unlike American breakfasts, the typical French breakfast, called le petit dejeuner or "the small breakfast," is not heavy and seldom consists of eggs, sausages and bacon. Some of the most popular French breakfast foods include croissants, breads, and hot or cold beverages.
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Croissants, crescent-shaped rolls made of sweet flaky pastry, were first created in Austria in the late 1600s and soon introduced in France. Today, they're a staple of the French breakfast, especially on the weekends. Croissants come in two basic varieties: croissant nature and croissant au beurre (butter croissant), which is the larger of the two. Croissants often are eaten with jam or dipped into coffee. With a relatively high number of calories (125 to 150 per pastry) croissants, while delicious, are not considered a particularly nutritious food.
The baguette (meaning stick or wand) has long been a favourite food of French breakfasts. A light, crusty bread in a loaf shape with a white interior that features many irregularly shaped holes, the baguette's fresh flavour is fleeting. They generally go stale within a matter of hours. Typically made with water, flour and yeast, baguettes also come in fancier varieties such as sourdough, whole wheat, rye, and milk and sugar. Baguettes are enjoyed at breakfast with fruit jams such as strawberry, orange, apricot and fig. Other French breakfast breads include pain au raisin, round Danish-like breads with raisins, and brioche, small buns that are part bread, part cake.
A French breakfast wouldn't be complete without a hot or cold beverage to start the day. Coffee, hot chocolate and freshly squeezed orange juice are breakfast favourites. Cafe au lait, a typical morning coffee, consists of a good-sized bowl (not a cup or a mug) of hot milk with a small amount of coffee. French coffee generally is made from strong espresso beans, so a little goes a long way. Unlike American hot chocolate, which usually is pre-sweetened, French hot chocolate is made from chocolate melted in hot milk; although very rich with a strong chocolate flavour, it's not sweet. Tea and milk are not part of breakfast in France.
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