We’ve all been told that breakfast is the most important meal of the day—and that could not possibly be further from the truth. I don’t know who started telling these lies to schoolchildren, but they clearly have never had a proper brunch, because if they had, they would understand that brunch clearly surpasses all other meals in every conceivable way. Brunch serves a unique purpose in making day-drinking socially acceptable as well as giving people a much-needed excuse to squeeze another meal in-between the not-actually-most-important-meal-of-the-day and lunch, the unpopular and slightly smelly cousin of the extended family of meals, or to forgo these two meals altogether in favor of a significantly better option.
I have been working on perfecting the perfect brunch spread for quite a while now. It’s been an enjoyable process, since I’ve gotten to eat frightening amounts of food to come to my conclusions, and I’ve come to some pretty delicious conclusions.
Every brunch needs a the right mix of sweet dishes, savory dishes and alcohol—or bubbly virgin drinks for those who don’t imbibe—and I think I’ve hit that perfect combination.
Last year, my ex-fellow group and friends would occasionally make Sunday brunches to celebrate important things, such as not completely caving under midterm-related stress or going through an entire week without eating something potentially life-threatening at the Deece, and they were always enjoyable and evolving. Nutella often starred center stage, and I firmly believe that adding Nutella could only serve to make a better brunch.
Not all of our brunches were even close to my ideal, but the ideal brunch needs an egg dish, a meat dish or vegetarian alternative, fresh fruit, something sweet, coffee, tea, juice, an alcoholic beverage or a virgin alternative and perfect timing. All of that makes for one intense morning for cooking—and it is a morning of work, because having something that complex ready in time for proper brunch time is something that needs to get an early start.
Perfect brunches don’t just happen; for me, they have always been a group effort. One person flips crepes, someone else preps the frittata, another chops fruit. If I want to get sentimental, I’d even say these brunches helped to bring my friend group together, but that’s a little schmaltzy even for me.
Basing each part of the brunch on a specific archetype makes each iteration of said brunch a potential for new combinations. An egg dish could be anything from a frittata to a soufflé, and meats could be bacon or steak. It’s all about changing up the format while still keeping the end result recognizable as a brunch. Too great a focus on the eggs or meat makes for a brunch that leans too far toward the breakfast end of the spectrum, while getting stuck on the booze or on things such as finger sandwiches drags brunch firmly into lunch territory. And who cares about lunch? Certainly not this woman, which is why I do brunches.
As for the final ingredient, perfect timing, I’m a firm believer that the perfect brunches happen either on lazy—well, lazy for the people not actually preparing the meal—Sundays around noon, or as near to spontaneously as possible on weekdays where skipping work or class with a few good friends is the only option that seems like a remotely viable plan for the day.
Brunches are just as much about the timing, ambiance and atmosphere as they are about having the perfect collection of food. In fact, a brunch made with less than fantastic ingredients, or one in which the eggs are burned and the champagne is flat, can still be a fantastic experience provided that one is with a good group of people. A Sunday brunch is nothing without a group of amazing people to share in it.
And after everything is cooked, there is still the quasi-formality of starting the meal. For me, it’s only when all the coffee has been poured, I’ve cracked open the bottle of champagne—or seltzer—and the entirety of the Jewett kitchen has been completely covered in brunch-related mess that I can sit down, or, as is often the case, stand up because all of the chairs are rickety and falling apart, to eat my favorite weekend food.
I haven’t gotten to have any brunches yet this year, though we have one planned for just after Thanksgiving. Junior year is busy and people are busy with actually preparing to enter the real world, whatever that is. But I can hope that even in the real world there will still be brunches with good friends.
Egg dish: Mushroom and cheddar frittata
Meat dish: Maple syrup and brown sugar crusted turkey bacon
Sweet dish: Crepes with Nutella
Bread: Nutella stuffed French toast with bananas
Fruit: Fresh strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
Beverages: Coffee, tea, orange juice and mimosas