The Appeal of Brunch

Clink. Sip. Slice. Munch. Laugh. Repeat.

Brunch has become a staple of our millennial lives. There is something so intriguingly special about a Sunday brunch with your friends. The table is always overflowing with mimosas, home fries, eggs three different ways and always at least one pancake. But, what is the appeal of brunch? Why have we placed it on a pedestal far above lunch and dinner?

Our generation is all about finding new and healthy ways to branch out from our parents. We are the kale-loving, SoulCycle-going, meme-watching generation. And our lifeblood is brunch. It provides a rich experience unlike any other; a time with friends when we can eat and drink to our fullest, without being judged for the time of day. Think about it; ordering multiple drinks at lunch is not exactly encouraged and dinner can end up being a more formal experience. At brunch, we can indulge in something out of the ordinary while still managing to meet our budgets. It’s a delightful way to order something that isn’t a classic dinner dish and to treat yourself. Especially in the late morning to early afternoon of a sunny weekend day.

And, if it isn’t obvious already, millennials are positively obsessed with photographing and sharing the exciting details of their day-to-day lives. The best part about brunch? It’s always aesthetically pleasing. Creamy Eggs Benedict on golden brown English muffins, fluffy Belgian waffles oozing with fresh fruit and maple syrup, colorful arrays of delicious Huevos Rancheros and, naturally, the never-ending flights of tropical mimosas and spicy Bloody Marys. As soon as the server arrives with the steaming, heaping plates, iPhones immediately emerge and the perfect, Instagram-worthy photo can be captured within seconds. After all, what good is a beautiful brunch if your friends can’t eye it on social media and be completely jealous?

Brunch fits the millennial lifestyle to a T. We are always hard-working fanatics during the week, juggling internships, classes, jobs and meetings. On the weekends, we like to treat ourselves to giant fishbowls, endless dancing, blistered feet and greasy pizza at 2 am. And brunch falls into this category perfectly; it allows us to still sleep in a little later on weekends, still get delicious breakfast foods and efficiently combine our breakfast and lunches into one filling, luxurious meal. And, of course, most of us arrive at our brunch dates relatively hungover. Well, no problems there! Brunch can accommodate even the most nauseous, aching people; coffee for those who need something strong, heavy dishes for those who need to fill their pained stomachs with plenty of carbs and even more refreshing drinks for those who aren’t quite ready to give up their alcohol intake for the weekend.

Since millennials fall into such a broad category when it comes to what we can and can’t afford, brunch is the perfect middle ground. For those of us college students who are broke beyond belief, we can alway manage to afford a couple eggs, home fries and toast for a reasonable couple of bucks. And for those of us older millennials with more successful incomes, there’s always an indulgent smoked salmon omelette, Nutella and strawberry crepe or eggs Florentine on which to splurge. It’s the perfect meal time to find something everyone likes and wants to immediately Snapchat to all their friends.

Clearly, the appeal we millennials have found in brunch is the aesthetic, diversity, and luxury in it. It’s a meal we have made our own, shifting it from a classic diner platter of pancakes and eggs to something for which one would wait two hours in line. We can’t deny the thrill it gives us to wake up at 10 am, dress up nicely, and be seated at a table at 11:30 with our best friends, snapping pictures of our strawberry mimosas and golden brown French toast. It’s alluring, tasteful, and as classy as we millennials can get.

Advertisements

Put An Egg On It: Five Ways to Make A Feast Fancy

Not all meals are born beautiful. It’s an uncomfortable fact. I could slave away for hours on a dish, caramelizing onions, stewing meat, cleaning turnips, chopping carrots (and maybe a bit of my pinky), and for what? Sure, it tastes delicious, my friends and family will sing my praises but there was a slight pause before they dug in to my masterpiece. They saw my mangled rump roast, and the thought crossed their mind, “Possum surprise?” Or maybe they were eyeing my black eyed-pea soup, admittedly grotesque in appearance and a general look of malaise passed over their face and started to think about all the evil things they had done to me, weighing it, thinking, “Was it worth poisoning me over?” I love scaring my family as much as the next kid, but that’s not exactly the effect I was going for.

My food was ugly. Just because it was my food didn’t mean I was oblivious to the facts. Ugly food isn’t like an ugly duckling. Saying a meal is unattractive doesn’t just mean it is “unappealing to the eye.” We put that stuff in our bodies. Would you want to eat the ugly duckling? Swallow its grayish lumpy mass and let it just, you know, sit in your stomach? Even if it wasn’t a beloved fairy tale character, I think it would make you sick.

When I work myself to the bone on a meal, I have expectations for that meal. The first of which being: it will taste good. The second: that it will not appear like two-week old horseflesh. Over the years, I have turned out some real eyesores. The kind of food that strangers would refuse to eat but family is forced to try, which is unfair to my ridiculously delicious food. As a result, I’ve learned a few tricks over the years on how to “pretty-up” slop. These are good tools for cooking to impress. Even if you’re not in it for the glory, your dinner guests will thank you for edible-looking food.

1. Put an Egg On It
I cannot tell you what this does for pasta, for burgers, for rice, for greens. Poached, fried or hard boiled, it makes everything better. And it’s pretty too. If you’ve just pulled out a pasta dish that’s looking like a wet noodle (forgive me), top it with a fried egg, grated parmesan and cracked pepper. The taste will remain phenomenal, and suddenly, your dish will look a five-star meal.

2. Top with Cherry Tomatoes
Scientific fact: Cherry tomatoes are adorable and delicious. You could even say they are joyful. Another redeeming quality: they give casseroles some much-needed class. There are few meals less glamorous than a casserole. So, your leftover casserole surprise needs all the help it can get from outside color. Before popping the dish into the oven, slice several cherry tomatoes and arrange on top. When you pull it out, it may still look like a casserole. But now it’s a casserole with class.

3. The Green Garnish
Some people think garnishes serve no purpose but to add color to a dish. Whatever. They probably just give birth to beautiful food every ten minutes and obviously don’t have my problems. For people like me, the final herb snipping is a godsend. Garnishes are like cover-up—blocking out some of the more unsightly pieces of my food. And I happen to think they enhance the flavor too. Depending on your recipe, add parsley, mint, cilantro or basil to the top of your dish, snipping with scissors or tearing by hand. Put as much as you need to cover the ugly. You’ll know you’ve gone too far when your family tells you, “The salad looks nice!”

4. A Trail of Breadcrumbs
Did you know that croutons are easy to make? Take a piece of old stale bread and tear it up into little pieces. Season it with salt and pepper, toss in olive oil, spritz with lemon juice, toss under broil, ten minutes max—BOOM lemony croutons that you should probably put on everything. I put it on top of a soupy, creamed chard once and it instantly became edible-looking. This is a particularly good topper for marinated greens or a piece of fish that came out gnarly. Pat it down with breadcrumbs and, just like that, you’ve made a crust.

5. The Cheese Mask
Have you ever thought that Mexican food doesn’t really look all that appetizing? No, this has probably never occurred to you. Because Mexican food looks delicious. Because it’s covered in cheese. I’ve never met a dish that wouldn’t look better with a little sprinkling of cheese (crumbled or melted) on top. Cheese also allows for the food to be shrouded in mystery. People don’t always need to know what’s in the stuffing. If you can’t taste the tofu, why would I tell you that it’s there?