In my early 20s, eating breakfast on the weekend was a pretty pathetic affair. It never happened before 1 p.m. and almost always took place at a greasy diner called The Pancake House. Sweatpants were the dress code and if my bill came to more than $6 after tax and tip I was doing something wrong.
After I graduated and moved off campus into a grownup apartment something happened: I stopped eating breakfast and started going for brunch.
If you’re unfamiliar with the most delicious portmanteau in the dictionary, brunch is that sweet spot between breakfast and lunch. It isn’t just a meal; it’s an epicurean event. Brunch is a hungover server’s worst nightmare and arguably the most civilized part of my week.
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To become a person who brunches (it’s also a verb now), you must develop a whole new attitude toward the late-morning meal.
When I go for brunch, I expect to wait at least 45 minutes for a seat because, naturally, any restaurant worth going to doesn’t take reservations. When I finally sit down, I order three different beverages — ice water, an Americano and a mimosa — to combat my dehydration, fatigue and hangover, respectively. I don’t raise an eyebrow at the outlandishly overpriced menu items; I eagerly hand over $20 for deconstructed french toast or huevos rancheros. I mean, this isn’t just your run-of-the-mill bacon and eggs — it’s brunch.
If my buttermilk pancakes have berries in them, I want those berries hand-foraged from a local bramble and soaked in cassis for three days. I don’t want sausage; I want chorizo. I don’t want toast; I want fresh-baked focaccia seasoned with rosemary and sea salt. Why is that Bloody Caesar in a regular glass — shouldn’t it be in a decorative mason jar?
I probably shouldn’t be this high-maintenance when it comes to breakfast. I really can’t afford to care this much about where my fruit garnish came from and whether the chicken that hatched my egg-white omelette was raised on an organic diet.
Yes, I could make these meals at home, saving myself money and the hassle of this so-hip-it-hurts ritual. But, as gratuitous as it is, brunch has become an integral part of my weekend routine.
One day a week I give myself licence to be completely pretentious about waffles and consume 1,200 calories before noon. Let’s face it: Sunday just can’t happen until I’ve had some hollandaise.