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Is Brunch The Best, Or Is It The Worst?


In recent months, brunch has become a lightning rod topic. In Trump’s America, it’s pushed liberals to wonder if protesting the sitting president should replace the weekend ritual, or even led others to wonder why the meal still exists. In the words that follow, Inez Stepman champions the virtue of the Sunday Funday meal, while Bre Payton derides it.

Brunch Is A Great American Tradition

Inez: Originally started as a family get-together after Sunday morning church, brunch has morphed into a ritual to be enjoyed by 20- and 30-somethings with friends or family, whether post-worship or post-late morning snooze. My introduction to brunch came during my tender middle-school years, when my father would take me to get A+ chocolate chip pancakes across from the local bookshop on Sundays. Now that I’m legally allowed to partake, brunch has just gotten that much better with the addition of $15 bottomless mimosas.

Brunch is typically derided as “basic” or “SWPL,” but that’s because bitter, angry people are jealous of how much fun a group of friends can have eating eggs Benny and pancakes and drinking champagne at noon on Sunday. Sure, you could make the same exact meal at home, but that’s missing the point of the gloriousness that is brunch, which is all about company, enjoying summer weather on picturesque patios, and taking a last gasp of fresh air before diving into the work week.

More practically, champagne mixed with your chosen delicious fruit juice is the perfect Sunday beverage. Light and refreshing, the bubbles go directly to your head but hospitably refuse to stay there, which allows brunchers to recover from their noontime indulgence going into the evening and certainly well before Monday morning. Sure, you’re unlikely to get your shopping list done and more liable to take a nap, but what Sunday afternoon task is so crucial that it can’t be completed on Monday evening?

Although it might seem contradictory, brunch fare is egalitarian as well as self-indulgent, as there is only so expensive a restaurant can make eggs, salad, and toast before people call them out on it. Some may deride the basicness of the brunch menu, but it’s the perfect time to splurge at a higher-end restaurant. Like the vibe of your local swanky joint? Brunch will lighten your wallet considerably less than dinner in the same establishment. Looking for a more chill atmosphere? The quintessential American diner serves as a trustworthy brunch choice for many small-town Americans.

For many young adults, brunch is a family tradition that has changed as they grew up and moved away; it has transformed from something done on daddy’s dime to a symbol of independence. For those millennials who have managed to make it out of the family basement, brunch is a financially-manageable way to celebrate being an adult. Let’s face it, in today’s culture of perpetual adolescence, where 30-year-olds buy basically the same coloring books their moms got for them, it’s nice to enjoy the adult-friendly version of a tradition with family roots.

Unlike so many childhood activities, brunch has grown up alongside us. So raise your sparkling beverage and revel in the company of your besties over eggs, because brunch is here to stay.

Brunch Is Awful

Bre: Please don’t invite me to your brunch, because I hate it! To be clear: I don’t hate brunch food — I like eggs Benedict, savory crepes, and crab cakes – I just don’t want to eat those foods on an empty stomach. I especially do not want to wash it down with a mixture of a sugary juice and cheap, bubbly alcohol, because that’s a one-way-ticket to diarrheatown.

Every time I go to brunch, I spend the rest of the day running back and forth to the bathroom, as runny eggs, decadent sauces, and lots of butter have the tendency to wreck my digestive system for the next 6-7 hours. And all the cheap, bubbly alcohol I usually make the mistake of consuming always gives me a headache and makes me feel lethargic for the remainder of the day. Whenever I brunch, I end up cancelling whatever other plans I’ve made in the afternoon or evening because all my energy gets spent digesting the indulgent foods I slammed my stomach with first thing in the morning.

This brings me the fact that brunch is way too early in the morning. I know a lot of readers will roll their eyes and say: “But Bre, brunch isn’t till noon!” To which I say: “I know that, silly!”

If I get a chance to sleep in until one or two in the afternoon, I’m taking it! I do not want to have to set an alarm for 10:30 a.m. in order be at a get together over runny eggs across town by noon. I’d rather be in bed and asleep with the shades down and my eye mask on until an ungodly hour in the afternoon. Brunch has ruined this perfect Saturday morning routine way too many times, and I’m sick of it.

The experience of brunch isn’t fun. It’s not fun for me, it’s not fun for all the other friends I end up blowing off later in the day to sleep off my champagne hangover, and it’s not fun for the servers who have to deal with my grouchy, drunk self.

My housemate, who is a server at a locally sourced restaurant in Washington DC, frequently serves brunch-goers during her weekend shifts. She tells me that brunchers are much needier than lunch or breakfast crowds. She’s not the only one in the food service industry to point out the pitfalls of the midday meal. Brunch customers frequently want more water refills, they’re less patient, more demanding about the food — they want things to be “just so.”

“There’s a heightened sense of intensity about the meal,” she said. “Brunch is supposed to be relaxing, and I would say most of the time it’s not.”

This is what I’ve been saying for years! Brunch is not relaxing. No one really wants to actually be there, because deep down we would all rather be asleep, or nursing Friday night’s hangover in the privacy of our own homes, not in the company of our chatty friends on a patio that is way too hot with foods that do not sit right.

Brunch is also decadent. Whenever I get roped into a brunch somewhere in the Beltway, I feel like I’m in “The Hunger Games.” My friends and I are eating fancy food and sipping champagne at noon in the nation’s capitol while much of the country struggles to pay their mortgages. The juxtaposition of these two realities — decadence in the capitol versus the opioid crisis and a population that’s facing the realities of a global economy — are just too much. This doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy splurging — I overpay for drinks all the time! I just don’t enjoy splurging on a meal that’s become a symbol of the elites, because it feels like I’m living out a parody of myself.

Take my advice: skip brunch and buy this shirt instead.