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What Exactly is This Thing You People Call Brunch?


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I've been reading this topic on brunch over in Restaurant Life, and I keep wondering: what the hell is brunch, anyway? I surely don't have a good definition for it, and the bad definitions follow unpleasant paths (brunch is that which you have not yet sold by Sunday morning, e.g.).

Googling "brunch" doesn't help, either. My favorite response is the first:

Some meal that Cajuns do not have.

Call me Amireaux and sign me up. What is this meal called brunch that you people eat?

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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Two points.

First, brunch is a great thing if you're hungover: A) You get a built-in excuse to eat traditional breakfast foods after noon, but if you can't stomach breakfast foods when you're hungover, it's also perfectly acceptable to order a burger or sandwich or other non-breakfast food. B) You can drink and people don't look at you as if you're downing a Scotch for breakfast.

Second, brunch is the ideal meal at which to order Eggs Benedict.

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Good point about Eggs Benedict. There are not many better opportunities to indulge in egg yolk and pork that don't involve bacon zabaglione.

But I'm confused: most places at which I've had the displeasure to brunch don't serve lunch fare like burgers or sandwiches, unless they have unfortunates like peach salsa or aged avocado added to them. Instead, menu items tend to hyperbreakfast plates like brioche french toast over cinnamon-candied apples with "creme brulee" sauce and a dusting of powdered sugar for good measure.

Chris Amirault

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Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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. . . .

My favorite response is the first:

Some meal that Cajuns do not have.

Call me Amireaux and sign me up. What is this meal called brunch that you people eat?

Given Janet's correct appraisal:

. . . brunch is the ideal meal at which to order Eggs Benedict

Chris's quote is astounding. The apotheosis of brunch is served at none other than Antoine's -- maybe more Creole than Cajun, but New Orleans to the core. Not just Eggs Benedict, but Eggs Sardou and Eggs Florentine. And no cinnamon-candied apples, even on the dessert menu. This is brunch.

Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

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I don't know where it came from, but it's been going on here in New Orleans (which, contrary to what the loud, poorly selected, and poorly played, recorded "cajun" music blaring from cheesy t-shirt shop doorways might lead a hungover NOLA neophyte to believe, is not in any way Cajun-that's not far from here, but it ain't here) for a long time. Hell, they've made movies about it. I mean, they could have just as easily called it "Brunch at Brennan's." The old line places here in town that do it all pretty much do the same thing.

One funny thing about it is that, among working professionals in or around the biz, there are differing opinions about it. If you are cooking, well, who wants to go BACK to work at some unGodly hour to make Eggs Benedict? On the other hand, if you are a REAL Jazz musician, well, it's another gig and it's pretty easy money.

The food, taking a quick look at menus around here are similar, most of them, if not all, throwing in Champagne, Milk Punch, or Bloody Marys into the mix. It's not a bad way to spend a Sunday morning if you can manage to get outta going to church with your mama and them, or at least that's always the way that I have felt about it.

One thing about them here, and elsewhere in tourist areas is that it gives people a chance to get out in the daylight and mix it up with the locals (at least that's true in New Orleans) and that's not always the case when you are dining out at the high end places at night.

I grew up in the Delta, about 300 miles North of here, and brunches on Sundays were almost always associated with some social event, mainly weddings. At that time, you never saw them in restaurants. You had to get way dressed up, in appropriate Garden or French Quarter attire, behave properly, and be able to go home and take a nap before whatever the afternoon/evening event was. The nap, in this case, was KEY. Without it, you might not be able to navigate the event and on to the next well set bar with, in my case, the same able and heavy handed bartender (all the ladies in my hometown used the same guy for years and years and years-someone long ago should have deposed him. He could have written a book that makes all of those Southern slice of life/disaster/bad behavior books look like Dr. Seuss. He paid attention. I loved that guy. He bartended my wedding and about ten parties that week. Damn near killed us all).

But, the food at these things was usually outstanding, with, never have been sure why, grits and grillades front and center, scrambled eggs, little crawfish pies and , a nice, big fruit thing going on, lots pork products at the ready, and plenty of dessert type things like coconut cake, pettifores, and chess pie. Coffee was usually there, but, oddly, I'm not sure if there was ever any in the pot. Don't remember seeing anyone ever drinking any.

I think that part of the reason that these things were so prevelant as social events was that, up til the mid to late 70s, most towns in the South were under Blue Law restrictions and you couldn't have done it at a restaurant if you wanted to and most country clubs, excepting the usually illegally operated on Sunday 19th holes, didn't serve drinks on Sunday. They don't seem to happen quite as much these days as they used to. More places around the South are open on Sunday now and it's just a hell of a lot easier to buy everybody some lunch and get back to dressing the bride, or the church, or undressing your, well, nevermind that part, but it was part of it.

But, generally, I would say that brunch is a great excuse, these days, for restaurants to pump out a meal that they can make alot more on than breakfast thanks to the liquor thing going on (Cafe Brulot anyone? We make it right by your table!) and being able to sell a little more upscale than straightup breakfast. Plus, here in NOLA, many of you have probably noticed the Sunday night is not exactly the best night of the week to try and eat out. Brunch does have something to do with this. Firstly, they have already made the dough for the day and secondly, they gotta give the staff a break. Brunch, at least at the highend places, often has the same wait staff that you would have had the night before and those guys can't work all of the time.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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But, the food at these things was usually outstanding, with, never have been sure why, grits and grillades front and center, scrambled eggs, little crawfish pies and , a nice, big fruit thing going on, lots pork products at the ready, and plenty of dessert type things like coconut cake, pettifores,  and chess pie. Coffee was usually there, but, oddly, I'm not sure if there was ever any in the pot. Don't remember seeing anyone ever drinking any.

Now, see, that's a brunch I'd attend, with two milk punches to keep Monday at bay. Up here, you get the coffee, scrambled eggs, and not much else on that list. But you knew that, didn't you.

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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But, the food at these things was usually outstanding, with, never have been sure why, grits and grillades front and center, scrambled eggs, little crawfish pies and , a nice, big fruit thing going on, lots pork products at the ready, and plenty of dessert type things like coconut cake, pettifores,  and chess pie. Coffee was usually there, but, oddly, I'm not sure if there was ever any in the pot. Don't remember seeing anyone ever drinking any.

Now, see, that's a brunch I'd attend, with two milk punches to keep Monday at bay. Up here, you get the coffee, scrambled eggs, and not much else on that list. But you knew that, didn't you.

Almost forgot, one very important item that, without fail, graced those tables-tiny, little, way homemade demi biscuits, about the size of a silver dollar. They were great, because, not only were they delicious, but you could wrap a bunch in a napkin and have them handy as you were one eyeing down the road back to your mama's house.

Brooks Hamaker, aka "Mayhaw Man"

There's a train everyday, leaving either way...

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Grits and grillades -- dammit, Brooks, you always make me homesick. :sad:

I am not a "brunch" person. I wake up at 6, 7 at the latest. I eat freakin' breakfast every day. By 11 or later, I don't want to look at eggs again.(Though I do like a make-your-own-bloody-mary-bar just fine, thank you.)

Of course, maybe that's because I'm a Cajun. Or maybe it's because no one around here is going to cook up any of those crazy ass Brennan's egg dishes -- the photocopied recipes for which I've got skulking about my cookbooks. And don't get me started on buffets. Blech.

My 5yo daughter was asking me what "brunch" was the other day, and I think I just confused her. A second breakfast? An early lunch? Who cares. Just pass me a biscuit.

Bridget Avila

My Blog

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. . . .
. . . brunch is the ideal meal at which to order Eggs Benedict

Chris's quote is astounding. The apotheosis of brunch is served at none other than Antoine's -- maybe more Creole than Cajun, but New Orleans to the core. Not just Eggs Benedict, but Eggs Sardou and Eggs Florentine. And no cinnamon-candied apples, even on the dessert menu. This is brunch.

and don't forget Eggs Hussard

Nothing is better than frying in lard.

Nothing.  Do not quote me on this.

 

Linda Ellerbee

Take Big Bites

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Why brunch is "second breakfast" of course. ( I love Lord of the Rings if you can't tell.) :biggrin:

Second breakfast is a chance for all us lazy bones who get up at 10ish to eat breakfast/lunch. So a little bit of eggs and bakkie and a little bit of something stronger like roast beef or grill fish. Add a few bloody Marys and all is good in hungover land. :raz:

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I love brunch! I love to go to brunch and I even like good brunch buffets. But I really love to serve a brunch. Breakfast-type foods are some of my favorites to make, but no one wants to come for breakfast and honestly, I don't care to start cooking quite that early anyway! I like making quiches, egg casseroles, pastries and, here in the South, at least, brunches usually include a savory casserole or two, green and fruit salads and some kind of juice cocktail. What's not to like?

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You guys all clearly have better options than I do. Don't you wait in line for 45 minutes, crowd into a noisy room, get served lots of re-reheated food that wasn't very good the first two times it was prepared, and generally find the entire experience to evoke the garbage disposal?

Maybe I'm not drinking enough the night before....

Chris Amirault

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

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You guys all clearly have better options than I do. Don't you wait in line for 45 minutes, crowd into a noisy room, get served lots of re-reheated food that wasn't very good the first two times it was prepared, and generally find the entire experience to evoke the garbage disposal?

Maybe I'm not drinking enough the night before....

*grin* yup you aren't drinking enough the night BEFORE and THE MORNING OF a brunch. I actually love brunches. I rarely get up in time for breakfast so miss out on breakfast foods unless there is a brunch. I've found here in Des Moines IA that Granite City has a decent brunch and if you time it right (10 or 1ish) then you beat the crowds. They keep a decent menu that is updated often and always have fresh food no matter when you get there. Is there one near you?

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No conversation about what is brunch is complete without a Simpson's reference:

Jacques: I know, I know. My mind says stop, but my heart, and my hips, cry

proceed. [Marge reacts accordingly] Marge darling, I - I want to

see you tomorrow. Not at Barney's Bowlorama, away from the

thunderous folly of clattering pins. Meet me tomorrow for Brunch.

Marge: What's Brunch?

Jacques: You'd love it, It's not quite breakfast, it's not quite lunch, but

it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don't get

completely what you would at breakfast, but you get a good meal!

Marge: I don't think so.

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Breathes there the man with soul so dead, he never to himself hath said, "Let's go to Sunday Brunch at the Peabody!!!!"

It is and was the epitome of luxurious charm in all my youth and dating days, and is still the grand old Octogenarian mainstay of Memphis' Sunday brunchers.

It's in the Skyway, gorgeous in the daytime, and set up with enough ice sculptures and towering croquembouche creations and platters of glistening salmon roses to grace the Cunard line. The room is lovely for brunch, but I best remember it at night, when we'd all wear cocktail dresses and a teensy whimsy of a hat, dancing to the orchestra under the ceiling of stars.

You dance til they close, go upstairs for a good sleep (they get their beds from the same place as Four Seasons), then come down at noon or so for Brunch, where a crowd of magicians has transformed last night's supper-club into a silver-platter Wonderland. I say noon, because that's when they start circulating with the magnums of Champagne---some old Southern thing about not breaking out the booze while Good Folks are still in Church, I think.

And if you're ambulatory by eleven, be sure to be in the lobby for the Duck March. It's the Law.

http://www.peabodymemphis.com/dining/sunda...unch_pop_up.cfm

This is what I could find---the clickety to enlarge won't work for me, but if this doesn't tempt you, come to my house. We do GREAT brunch and Killer Bloody Marys, especially the Dirty ones.

This is kinda what ours are like at home (among other stuff, but I couldn't edit out the dinners).

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=112517&hl=

Edited by racheld (log)
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I love brunch. I think the first time I experienced a true "brunch" was sometime in the early '60s at a restaurant in Malibu that had both a buffet type or sit-down-and-be-served brunch at a fixed price.(Not cheap.)

Over the years I have served brunch to friends, had brunch at the homes of friends and at many eating establishments.

The best, by a long shot, is the Sunday Champagne Brunch served at The Ritz Carlton in Laguna Nigel (note: that is pronounced "Nee-gel")

I do not drink alcohol so have to skip the champagne but I have been told by others that it is a good one.

The first time I had the brunch was sometime in the mid-'80s and I can't recall how many times since, but I try to get down there at least once a year.

When they list a "wide" selection of Pastries and Cakes, they are not kidding!

Edited by andiesenji (log)

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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I would assume it came about during weddings, church service, early sporting events, community gatherings, and maybe christenings that all happened relatively early in the day where people may have somewhat missed their breakfast and are rolling straight into lunch hour. I guess insteadd of just having a sandwich and calling it a day families started to create brunch-like meals for the gatherings that consisted of basic breakfast foods (staple meats and sweetbreads) as well as the typical hors dourves and lunch items like pasta, salads and open face sandwich's.

Eventually restaurants catching on to the idea probably began to offer sunday brunch who relied heavily on a famished church crowd as well as the influx of other celebrations around the year.

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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Too late for BReakfast, not quite lUNCH = BRUNCH.

= A merge of the best elements of the two

mmmmmm.  Brunch

humorously I say:

exactly when does breakfast end and lunch begin, and where is there the gap. Brunch is served all the way up to 3 o'clock typically and can begin as early as 8.

Edited by chiantiglace (log)

Dean Anthony Anderson

"If all you have to eat is an egg, you had better know how to cook it properly" ~ Herve This

Pastry Chef: One If By Land Two If By Sea

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so who doesn't like a nice little buffet?

http://forums.egullet.org/index.php?showtopic=116598&st=0

tracey

The great thing about barbeque is that when you get hungry 3 hours later....you can lick your fingers

Maxine

Avoid cutting yourself while slicing vegetables by getting someone else to hold them while you chop away.

"It is the government's fault, they've eaten everything."

My Webpage

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I love brunch buffets, especially if they have a really good selection of fresh fruits and salads, with some unusual vegetables... Roasted Asparagus at 11 am? Mmmmm...

I also love omelette stations... For some reason, it's the only time I like to eat them.

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My first encounter with Brunch was serving it on the weekends in the Marines Mess Hall. It was mostly your standard breakfsat stuff with snackbar style food. Scrambled eggs and a Chili dog anyone?

I think the important factor was that instead of opening for breakfast at 4:30am and serving until 8:00am, then breaking down and setting up to do lunch from 11:30am to 1:00pm, we would do one serving from 7:00am to 11:00am and close until dinner service at 4:30pm until 6:00pm. that gave us time mid-day to go run 5 miles and take a shower before starting to cook Dinner.

Veni Vidi Vino - I came, I saw, I drank.
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It's interesting how brunch is slightly different around the world. In my mind, brunch is something that starts at 11 on a Sunday, involves reading papers, and sitting around for a long time. Since breakfasts are comparitively low-key events in this part of the world (full Irish aside), it offers the chance to eat something more substantial.

That said, I've noticed a recent trend here to label something as "brunch" when it quite obviously isn't. A local establishment advertises the service, but when I turned up at noon it wasn't yet open. Apparently, it opens for brunch at 12:30, and offers such things as burgers, pasta, etc. Shouldn't this simply be called "lunch"?

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God I F*&king HATE brunch. Well I hate eating brunch in restaurants. I will not condone brunch, since I hated working it so much I cannot partake. The service most times isn't very good. It’s either the new people, the d-listers, the same people who worked Saturday night (then went out and got hammered) and then had to wake up at the butt crack of dawn, or it’s punishment for some infraction. And the food…benedict sauce held at room temp for hours, gallons of scrambled eggs festering in pickle buckets, bacon cooked on sheet pans than left to wallow in it’s own grease.

And then there is the clientele. I have found it is mostly hung over people who DIDN’T get laid the night before, so they are extra bitchy. If they had picked someone up on Saturday night they would still be in bed…

A couple of Mimosas made with 4.99 a bottle of champagne is not going to overcome these hurtles.

Toby

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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