September 23, 2016

Brunch boom: how brunch became the most popular meal of the day

We're asking the question, why has brunch become so popular?


Even if you disagree on whether to have it late morning or early afternoon, brunch is surely one of the best parts of modern-day food culture.

Not quite breakfast. Not quite lunch. The late morning to mid-afternoon tradition of brunch has existed in some form since the end of the nineteenth century. Kicking off in England in the 1890s, this culinary contender to breakfast reached a peak in popularity in 1930s as it spread to the United States.

The past decade in particular has seen increased hype for the meal that has been a part of society for over a hundred years, yet always seems to be hip and trendy.

Beringer’s Pearls of Brunch Wisdom

The origins of brunch are a little uncertain. Some say it stems from the Catholic tradition of fasting before mass and then sitting down to a large dinner on the Sunday afternoon. Others profess it originated from English “hunt breakfasts” of a century gone where lavish meals were had after the shooting party had returned from a morning hunt. One man in particular claimed that brunch was a response to something we can all relate to: the hangover.

Alleged founder of brunch Guy Beringer claimed that brunch simply “happened” naturally as a result of lie-ins after an alcohol-fuelled evening of partying. Pushing breakfast back a few hours gave ample time for everyone to recover from the after-effects of excessive drinking and build hearty appetites for the substantial meal to satisfy.

Beringer also claimed that brunch had qualities no other meal could offer. “Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting,” he said. “It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.”

Quite right. Yet what is it in recent years that has sent us all brunch bonkers? Perhaps it is the flexibility of brunch that means it continues to be a stalwart part of weekend eating?

To Each Their Own: The Bendable Nature of Brunch

A good old fashioned English breakfast-type brunch consumed late on a Sunday morning does indeed do a lot to cure a sore head from the antics of the night before. Yet today’s brunch is much less confined to its olden status as “hangover food”. Nowadays, a plum, ginger and orange smoothie and smashed avocado on soda bread might form the centre piece of the fitness fanatic’s post-workout brunch. Poles apart on the dinner table, yet both perfectly acceptable forms of brunch today.

Even within a brunch itself, choice remains king. Traditional brunches might consist of coffee, tea, fruit juices, breakfast foods including pancakes, waffles, and french toast; meats such as ham, bacon and sausages; egg dishes such as scrambled eggs, omelettes and Eggs Benedict; bread products such as toast, bagels or croissants; pastries or cakes.

Walk around any major city on a weekend and brunch will be served by many establishments, putting their own twist on this old favourite. Mexican mixes of salsa and eggs on fajitas; or Italian meats and breads all are welcome on the metropolitan brunch table today. When making brunch yourself, the only limits are what you have in your kitchen, and what you can will yourself to make the day after a night out!

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