A brunch is a brunch is a brunch?

Late Sunday morning, I stood with friends at the outdoor host table at Level One at Cobalt in Dupont, queued up for a brunch table. It occurred to me that I do this relatively infrequently. I sometimes join friends for brunch at their behest, but I don’t usually bring it up myself. In fact, I don’t think it has ever occurred to me to instigate a brunch event on my own. Why? Because I wasn’t even really aware of the institution of brunch until I moved to Washington, DC.

Don’t get me wrong – my daily vernacular is sufficiently rich and poppin’ fresh so as to be peppered with the latest words resulting from spliced pairs of other words. I eat my salad with a spork. I watch sitcoms. I sneebay. (Snack and shop on eBay, obviously.) And, until this point in my life, I was indeed aware of the meaning of brunch. But the brunches of Chicago, as I remember them, are usually sprawling all-you-can-eat buffets – like those at my college dining hall, for example. I wasn’t acclimated to ‘brunch’ as a proper noun until I came here. And it isn’t only a noun – it’s a verb (“care to brunch?”), it’s an adjective (“this is sort of more-of-a-brunchy place, don’t you think?”) You could probably even use it as an onamonapia, provided that you make a freakish sound when you eat (“BRUNCH BRUNCH BRUUUUUNCH!”)

So, perhaps I have rhetorically misstepped, because I always equated the word ‘brunch’ with unlimited buffets. I don’t know why I did this – they aren’t called, “unlimi-brunch-fets” or anything. But I did associate the word with the feeling of an all-day gut-bomb, the kind that leaves you sleepy and only wanting to wear sweatpants – the sort of lazy gastro-experience that leaves a girl comatose before a TLC marathon. Perhaps the combination of the words ‘breakfast’ and ‘lunch’ led me to believe that the meal necessarily entailed the consumption of enough food to fill you up twice. I am not quite sure. Obviously, I was wrong. But I must ask – does the word ‘brunch,’ and the existence of infinity ‘brunches’ in DC, connotate little more than the availability of both breakfast and lunch items? If it was just lunch, or just breakfast, would it not be enough of a reason to track down an outdoor café that will accommodate your pug?

Please do not misread me – I do enjoy meeting friends for a nice meal, especially on a weekend. I am just a bit dumbfounded as to why we insist on calling it brunch, as if it beckons to mind a specific experience that seems to me to be nebulously defined.

As for Coabalt, I ordered a breakfast sandwich with ham on a croissant. After I ordered, I suffered the searing pain of buyer’s remorse, because it suddenly dawned on me that OF COURSE an English muffin was obviously the better choice, and WHAT HAD I DONE??? The croissant failed to provide adequate structural antithesis to the creamy scrambled egg, and I had to cradle the wiggly thing in my palms like it was a baby bird.

Naturally, once I had done that, I knew the mother croissant would smell human on its young and never take the thing back. I was responsible for it now. So I brunchily ate it up, and wondered what Nietzsche might have to say about the way the word ‘brunch’ is used in DC – especially after ordering bottomless mimosae.

– A confused, but happily fed and properly friend-surrounded Natalie

About Natalie Shure

literature, life and latte lady

4 Responses to “A brunch is a brunch is a brunch?”

  1. I shall henceforth make brunchbrunchbruuuuunch noises when consuming said meal. My future dining companions thank you, I’m sure.

    I’ve known of the DC brunch long enough that I’m surprised when people from other places don’t get what I’m talking about. This was an amusing and fairly accurate account of the general perception, I think.

  2. I actually loathe brunch. It was big in new York too. Why get dressed to eat overpriced eggs if you can lounge with your boyfriend in bed and drink black coffee and listen to records? Mostly though I don’t get the lines and gaggles of girls. I went to a women’s college and don’t mean that misogynistically but most guys I know brunch bc of a woman. It’s the chick flick of meals.(: if it were you I’d go, since you’re lovely company regardless of meal. Hope you are well in bloomingdale.

  3. For me brunch isn’t so much the content as it is the time of day. In some ways it’s more of a breakfast type meal, but really, I just call it brunch if it falls close to lunch but isn’t yet noon. Like after church breakfast with the family. Or something. Of course, I come from small town Ontario so maybe that has something to do with it…

  4. I believe the correct plural form of mimosa is mimosas….it is not a word that keeps its latin or greek origin plural spelling. Other than that I think that Brunch is just breakfast food happening outside the breakfast hours and leaking over into the lunch hours.

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