Ever since lockdown began, brunch has been getting a bad rap. There’s this idea that brunch — that lazy, boozy, breakfasty weekend meal — is a shallow, stupid, entitled exercise in unearned privilege. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez sure thinks so.
Speaking to viewers, the Democratic congresswoman from New York said with a smile, “I’m sorry to tell you you’re not going back to brunch, we’re not going back to brunch. That’s not happening.” What she’s missing is that gathering with friends and breaking bread is the basis of all of our most important traditions, in every religion and in all our national holidays.
And after we work to command victory in November, I need folks to realize that there’s no going back to brunch.
We have a whole new world to build. We cannot accept going back to the way things were, & that includes the Dem party. We must deliver transformative, material change. pic.twitter.com/r7du2yOl2c
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) September 19, 2020
This demand that we reimagine ourselves as shallow for wanting to gather and share a meal is anathema to humanity. Back in the early days of the pandemic, when the restaurants shut down, and “15 days to flatten the curve” turned into more than a month (now six months), anti-lockdown protesters began showing up at government buildings, demanding they be permitted to start their lives again. They were criticized and mocked for wanting to get their hair done or, even worse, to go to brunch.
Shared Meals Are Part of Our Valued Traditions
So many of our human traditions are about gathering and sharing a meal. In Christianity, we break bread on Sundays as part of our prayer service. We bless the meal, we thank God, and the sacred bread is broken and shared. It is both a solemn and joyous sacrament, and this experience of breaking bread as a form of worship is something many people missed desperately when church services were prohibited.
In Judaism, the Passover meal goes on for seven days. Special foods are prepared and eaten together around a table in community and praise. The Haggadah, a book of prayer, accompanies the meal, which includes not only the food and gathering, but the recounting of the struggles of the Jews’ ancestors, and how grateful they are that their forebears endured to the Promised Land.
The Chinese New Year celebration is a feast that lasts for days, and specific foods symbolize luck, rebirth, and wealth. Ramadan, the month-long Muslim holiday of fasting, ends each day with the Iftar, a meal that breaks the daily fast at the time when prayers are called. Living in an Arabic neighborhood and seeing all the festivities, planning, and preparation surrounding this meal, I can attest there is nothing even remotely shallow about it.
Human Communion Is Indispensable
Many people consider brunch silly, and perhaps that’s because it is uniquely American. This meal is a summation of two other meals, which can stretch on for hours. We partake in brunch at the end of the week, when work is done, when we can chill for a minute and indulge together in a meal that is entirely about being together. Brunch is a way that we gather and strengthen our bonds.
Human communion is essential. Every sacred holiday centers around a meal, and even our secular holidays are about food in lots of ways. What’s the Fourth of July without a cookout? What’s Thanksgiving without turkey? And what, exactly, is Mother’s Day without brunch? Lots of moms couldn’t enjoy brunch with their kids this year, and according to AOC, that’s just as it should be, because brunch is a luxury the revolution simply cannot afford.
The hatred of brunch is part of the hatred of the American middle class. Speaking to her followers on Instagram, AOC talked about the “political middle” and how these people are too willing to see rational, reasonable points on both sides of the issues. Then she told them what’s really important is not brunch, but being radicalized.
“Mass movements are the answer. Millions of people are the answer. You are the answer,” said AOC. “Let this moment radicalize you. Let this moment really put everything into stark focus because this election has always been about the fight for and of our lives. Whether we like it or not, November is about survival.”
Just Ignore Her and Go to Brunch
The Democrats have been telling us since 2016 that a Trump administration would lead to the end of our way of life, and now they’re making good on that promise. They’re telling us, flat out, that the way of life we enjoyed before a novel virus swept through the country is no more because there are more important things than wasting time with friends, having a few laughs, and eating blueberry pancakes.
But there aren’t. Spending time, breaking bread, and sharing a meal with people we love is intrinsic to the human condition. We need it. Yes, we need brunch.
It’s not up to the New York congresswoman whether we drink bottomless Bloody Marys and nosh on Eggs Benedict with our pals on Sundays. The desire to brunch is not a shallow one. “We have a whole new world to build,” AOC said. “We cannot accept going back to the way things were.”
For AOC and her mobbing cohorts that have been seen disrupting meals in Pittsburgh, San Diego, D.C., and other American cities, the fight is too great for people to waste time enjoying their lives. As she said to her viewers, however, and as I say to you, “You are the answer. … Let this moment really put everything into stark focus.”
Are you going to let yourself be mobbed out of spending time with family, sharing a meal, and sharing joy? Or are you going to brunch? If you opt for the latter, please, brunch like your way of life depends on it.