Sitting down in the dining room for the breakfast buffet at the Oberoi Grand in Calcutta, I overheard an American say somewhat loudly (as we do) to another American, “You can get yourself some bacon up there,” gesturing to the buffet table.

This was like my fifth day in India.

When I got to India, I ate Indian food three times a day (surprise!), with no ill effect. I have to admit that although I was pretty sure I hadn’t picked up any belly-attacking bacterial, my tummy felt a little…different.

I knew what would help: eggs…and bacon.

After that realization, whenever I had the chance in India, I had eggs and bacon for breakfast. That familiar, kind of dull and predictable first meal seemed to set me up for the rest of the day of eating some very spicy food (not always hot, but always heavily spiced, and frequently fantastically delicious).

I consider the traditional Anglo-American breakfast of eggs and bacon to be a kind of neutral foundation for further gastro-adventures, a totally unsurprising and predictable combination of flavors that grounds the gut.

I hardly ever have it when eating breakfast at home, but during foreign travels, bacon – or some kind of pork — and eggs – with maybe some fried potatoes – is usually my go-to-first-bite. For me, it works.

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David Hammond

David Hammond, a corporate communications consultant and food journalist living in Oak Park, Illinois, is a founder and moderator of, the 8,500 member Chicago-based culinary chat site. David...