The Origins of Brunch (And Why It's Important)
Brunch. That strange meal that is both exceedingly alluring and loathed at the same time.
It’s one that seems to be universally accepted across social divides and classes - something that everyone can seem to get behind.
It’s not hard to understand why. Who wouldn’t love alcoholic beverages, breakfast foods that are both solid enough to give you respite from the weekend’s activities but are not heavy enough to cause digestive distress? And more importantly a way to collect from the week and weekend and regroup before heading into the week.
I was curious regarding the origins of brunch. Although it is debated - some say that it was invented by Catholics who fasted before sitting down to a large meal after mass, some say that it has its roots in British hunting breakfasts resplendent with hardy foods like meats, sausages, eggs and fresh fruit, and still other people state that it was established in places like New York where many of the foods endemic to brunch (such as eggs benedict) originated.
The first mention of brunch was in the 1895 by British author Guy Beringer in Hunter’s Weekly
"Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting… It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week."
Beringer would discuss the merits of brunch - instead of the heavy multiple course meal usually served in Britain, it would start off with lighter fare usually consumed for breakfasts with tea and coffee as a way to slowly working your way to actual food. Whether tired or hungover, this would make life easier on everyone.
Although I’m sure I don’t need to tell you, brunch is truly is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Sunday is a day of rest for us (since we work six days a week) and it’s a very needed opportunity to unwind, put down the mobile device, eat wonderful food and spend quality time with our friends and loved ones.
Brunch has the reputation of being pretentious and fussy. It can be - but it can also be as simple as you would like it to be. Sure you can serve eggs benedict and crepes and a bloody mary with a mini cheeseburger on the cocktail skewer, but it doesn’t have to be super fussy - even store bought brunch with some mimosas will make everyone very happy.
Here are a couple tips from us on how to serve a perfect brunch.
Have plenty of beverages
Depending on your crowd, you may have alcoholic beverages or nonalcoholic. Even if you don’t want to serve mimosas (or bellinis or bloody mary’s) having orange juice, coffee and tea is a must for brunch. Best served in actual glassware and china if possible to heighten the brunch experience.
Have a variety of savory and sweet dishes
We like having both savory and sweet dishes on the table to ensure that there’s a good mix of foods for everyone to eat depending on their mood. I mean, sometimes you’re in the mood for sweet and sticky cinnamon rolls, while other times you may be more interested in perfectly poached eggs and crispy bacon, and sometimes you may be interested in both. It’s always good to have a balance of light and heavy items as well - salads and fruit as well as casseroles and hot dishes some people may be feeling a bit rough from the night before!
Brunch officially starts at 11 - but we prefer to start earlier
Not that there’s any reason you can’t start at 11, but we like 10 or 10:30. The timing is just right - late enough for people to not have to rush out of bed, but early enough not to feel like your entire day has been spent. Plus, it gives people a chance to catch up and mill around before actually sitting down to brunch, which is my favorite part.
The most unforgivable sin is starting brunch after noon - then it’s just lunch. And late lunch at that.
Keep it simple
Don’t get me wrong, we love fussy - we are the queen of fussy and over the top when it comes to entertaining - but brunch isn’t meant to be fancy. Unlike dinner, even the drinks are much more casual because the emphasis should be on enjoying each others’ company and relaxing and socializing, rather than focusing on the food entirely.
Keep it easy on yourself - breakfast casseroles and simple but delicious pastries are easy to prepare and leave minimal cleanup. You don’t need five or six dishes - just two or three dishes will suffice.
We hope that these tips help you to be more inspired about brunch! It’s a great way to reconvene and gather with the people in your life, and it doesn’t have to be fussy at all. The most important thing is that you’re getting together with good food and reconnecting before the week gets started again. And we could all use a little bit more of that in our lives.