In the United States, baked beans are for barbecues — to be eaten in the back yard with hot dogs and hamburgers and potato salad. In South Africa, baked beans are for breakfast.

Joe loves baked beans on toast in the morning, but I have to say I wasn’t super excited about the idea. First off, I’m kind of a health nut and I figured that baked beans can’t possibly be healthy. Plus…beans in the morning?

But I decided to give it a go. According to Joe, All Gold baked beans are the only beans worth eating.

(Note: All Gold is also the major ketchup brand here. It’s not called ketchup though, it’s called tomato sauce. So All Gold baked beans are basically baked beans in ketchup. Confusing, I know.)

We found All Gold baked beans at Spar, the South African version of Safeway. I peaked fearfully at the ingredients list: ‘Small white beans in tomato sauce (water, tomato paste, cane sugar, salt, modified maize starch (E1401), spices)’.

I don’t think I want to know what E1401 is, but other than that, not too bad. The nutrition information was promising as well. High in protein, low in fat. Too much sodium, but it is a canned good after all.

I emptied the can into a pot, heated it for five minutes, then poured the beans over two slices of toast (one for me and one for Joe). We sprinkled emmenthaler cheese (another food I’ve discovered in South Africa — like Swiss cheese but more flavorful) and black pepper on top. I felt there was still something missing so I added a side of sliced fuerte avocado (so much better than Hass!) with a sprinkle of sea salt.

I took a bite. Yum. The key is the flavor of the sauce (er, the ketchup) — it’s much milder and more tomato-y than the sugary-tangy barbeque flavor of American baked beans.

Five minutes later, this was my plate.

Baked beans for breakfast. Who knew?

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