You could be forgiven for thinking that brunch was the brainchild of an Australian. We are a nation recognised globally for our culinary creativity between sun up and 2PM. We are revered for our latte finesse and boozy breakfast amnesty. We are imaginative in our approach to founding decadence so early in the day.
But brunch originated in England during the late 19th Century. The term was coined by Guy Beringer in an 1895 Harper’s Weekly article titled ‘Brunch: A Plea’. In his column, Beringer mused over the junction of growing old and mealtime becoming the day’s most climactic moments. He touts ‘variety’ as the spice of life, but condemns Saturday dinner and Sunday breakfast as lacking such pizazz. Credit where credits due, he does pose a solution.
Beringer serves up the idea of a hybrid meal. This meal incorporates the heavier animal elements of lunch, the first meal of the day element of breakfast, and the whisky-as-a-substitute-for-coffee element of... well, brunch.
Skip forward to NYC in the 1930s and the idea had certainly found its own pizazz. Bourgeois hotels in upper Manhattan would cater for guests with oil drenched and oversized buffets replenished well into the afternoon. Downtown cafes and hangouts started serving eggs all day. Not only was whisky available from open, but wine, champagne and beer too.
Perhaps the Americans needed something uplifting after World War I. Or perhaps they just got used to longer Saturdays out and slower Sundays in. In any case, Beringer’s idea was now template for something much more than just an eccentric, crossbred meal. It was a subculture.
Turn the clocks forward another almost-century and, in 2018, ‘brunching’ knows no bounds.
By it’s very nature, brunch inspires the margins of social interaction to become fluid. It doesn’t falter to the weather. It can be enjoyed by old friends or first dates. It can be consumed in solitude or inhaled by groups. It can be a necessary tonic to soak up the sins of the night previous, or a carefully planned out event to acknowledge birth, death and business dealings.
Writing a modern brunch menu is no simple feat either. The rules are murky. Smoked salmon & cream cheese bagels with a caramel muffin? Granola & berry yogurt pots with truffle arancini?
But despite selections becoming zanier, what has stayed consistent since Beringer was begging for sauerkraut to accompany his eggs is the universal understanding that brunch is best enjoyed on a Sunday. It remains the perfect, buttery transition into the new week ahead. Beverage in hand, napkin in lap.
It’s a shame Beringer is no longer around to enjoy the Bottomless Rose Brunch Series at Regatta Rose Bay this summer. It certainly would have been the climax of his old age.