Over a week ago there was an amusing story I heard on the radio. At the time listeners were chiming in about how they felt about brunch. I found the story online (you can read or listen), “Eggs benedict and mimosas, anyone? We Settle the Brunch Debate Once and For All.”
I think I tuned in right before Ellen Reich of Baltimore’s snippet, which made me laugh. She kind of hits all the points. I don’t agree with her, but I can relate to where she’s coming from.
“I abhor eggs. No eggs is the only phrase I can say in multiple languages,” she says. “Brunch food is just throwing a sauce or whipped cream on food items that aren’t all that exciting to begin with. Hard pass for me regarding drinks. If you want a drink in the morning, drink in the morning. No need to dress liquor up with fruit or vegetable juices to make it acceptable.”
I think it’s more common for Americans to meet in the morning over a coffee or tea than an alcoholic beverage. I guess that’s where those brunch mimosas, champagne, and Bloody Marys come into play, easing alcohol into morning social acceptance.
The Germans have their “Frühschoppen, a morning get-together, when friends meet over a Schoppen. Depending on the region, this may be a glass of wine or a beer and schnapps. The custom of enjoying a Frühschoppen on Sundays between church and the midday meal is still popular, particularly in rural areas.” [from collinsdictionary.com]. Stammtisch is the regulars’ table, which might be signified with a little flag or banner in the middle of the table. I lived in Germany for a few years. I’d occasionally see these Sunday get-togethers, usually of older men, though I was never a part of any regular meeting group.
In Germany in the early 90’s I didn’t perceive brunch to be as common as it was in the U.S. Some restaurants offered it, but only the cool, trendy ones, and it seemed to have a similar characteristic to American brunch; it might have even been called “American brunch.”
German breakfast already felt like something special to me. There’d be a basket full of an assortment of fresh rolls from the bakery (someone had run out to get that morning), a huge spread of cold cuts and cheeses, butter, honey, and a big selection of jams, and maybe some soft-boiled eggs. Juice, coffee and tea. If you’re at someone’s house, all this stuff comes out of the fridge and is nicely spread out. It’s a breakfast event.
I first heard the expression and learned the concept of “second breakfast” in Norway from my sister-in-law’s husband. I woke up later than him, and I saw him already eating a piece of bread with something on it, not what he had announced was for breakfast that morning. When I asked if he had already eaten breakfast, he said, “This is my first breakfast. Second breakfast is later.” Something to that effect. I think you take the edge off with first breakfast, so that second breakfast can be a nice, leisurely, more substantial meal with company.
We are in the coffee business. Breakfast and brunch are the coffee meals. Unless you are capable of enjoying an espresso or coffee after dinner, like many Europeans. I enjoy eating out for both breakfast and brunch. And it has been more fun to entertain and have friends/family over for breakfast or brunch than dinner. There are just different expectations to those meals. You might spend the entire day preparing and cooking dinner, which means the host might already be tired. That’s not likely to be the case for breakfast. If you prepare anything that far in advance, it’s the day before or even earlier, and the day-of you’re reheating or doing the final bake.
I had been in a book club for 26(!!) years. We used to alternate hosting weekday dinner (whether take out or home cooked) and had moved to weekend brunch in my last years. People were more alert, and the meal could be simple or more elaborate. And we had daylight for the whole meeting and still had the rest of the day after book club.
Call it what you will … first breakfast, second breakfast, brunch, and lunch are all possibilities with me. Eating those might start at 6am and be as late as 3:30pm. And then there’s a dinner, or maybe a lunner (lunch + dinner). Hee hee.
Do you have strong opinions about brunch?