Brunch Is America's Most Hated Meal Because We All Ruined It
Apr 16 2014
Brunch is, without a doubt, the most divisive meal known to man. For everyone like myself who loves nothing more than crawling out of bed on a Sunday afternoon to eat a shitload of eggs, there's another two people who'd rather auto-eroticaly asphyxiate while watching Full House reruns than eat brunch.
In major cities across the country, hoards of hungry, well-heeled eaters line up for hours to shove unhealthy food into their mouths and get day-drunk. To my ear, that sounds like a gravy-soaked dream come true.
Unfortunately, brunch has become synonymous with upper class, yuppie assholes and urban tourists. More than any other dining experience, the leisure and excess of brunch typifies the gaping divide between America's haves and have-nots. A low-income, ethnic neighborhood is not truly gentrified until it has a trendy destination that experiments with kale.
A beautiful meal that involves both bacon and alcohol has been ruined by the afterbirth of our culture's rapidly escalating class conflict. If society implemented a few of the below suggestions, we could make brunch not only more egalitarian, but also significantly less shitty.
It Costs Too Much
The image of the typical brunch patron is that of a snob who spends most of their morning deciding what to wear to brunch. That's our fault. Brunch developed into an exclusively bourgeois activity because it's expensive, and middle class strivers are complicit in this sham. If I go to brunch, I'm probably going to spend at least $40. Entrees alone can cost up to $20. Drinks aren't far behind. It's the perfect meal for the oncoming rush of generic culture and gentrification because it's essentially elitist.
The only way this will change is if we collectively start supporting shitty, low-cost diners where the wait staff is more sassy than dismissive. If enough city dwellers skipped the interminable lines and grabbed corned beef hash and a can of domestic beer for brunch, maybe we could save the world.
We're Inviting the Wrong People
Often, brunch is used as a tool for urban professionals to network. It's not a meal. It’s a goddamn circus with multiple rings, all teeming with needy, egotistical, starving animals. Satiating these beasts can either be a simple task (sticking a bloody mary in their hand and hoping for the best) or a Herculean effort riddled with potential social disasters.
I suggest we stop inviting colleagues or acquaintances to brunch. This should be a pleasant activity, not a rush to show off to your direct competition or a way to get ahead in your career. You should really only invite close friends who won’t mind if you embarrass yourself by throwing up brie-flavored vomit in the back of the cab on the way home. This is why certain people create “brunch clubs,” a cadre of trusted associates that appreciate you enough to tolerate you while you’re day-drunk.
Restaurants Make Us Wait Too Fucking Long
OK, this has nothing to do with class. It's just a pet peeve of mine. I refuse to wait in line for over an hour for anything, unless we're talking about a machine that dispenses unlimited free hot dogs. You have to trudge through a mass of people also waiting for food, find the host or hostess who may or may not be completely frazzled, write your name down, and then hope to god you can find a comfortable place to sit.
Most people spend this time having inane conversations or instagramming anything and everything they can find. At some brunch spots, you can drink while you wait for a table to open up. Drinking occupies that dark space between your ears that insists on generating thoughts like, “Why would I wait so long to eat?” or “I really hope I don’t end up with nightmarish flatulence after I’m done eating.” Alcohol keeps existence’s sorry truth from interrupting your good time, which is the second biggest reason why restaurants serve booze at brunch. The biggest reason is, of course, monetary gain. Not only are the drinks pricey, but if you drink enough before you’re even seated, you’re bound to order more food. Yes, I will take an extra side of wild boar bacon. Also, can I get some ranch with that? In a to-go cup?
Find a way to alleviate this interminable purgatory, or I may never eat eggs benedict again.
You Basically Can't Order Any Real Alcoholic Drinks
Drinking during a meal is one of those luxuries the well-heeled love most about brunch. That's why all brunch drinks are so goddamned fancy. It's yet another outward sign of success. If all you want to do is be in an environment where it’s culturally acceptable to eat pancakes at 2 PM, then just stay home (side note, some people have brunch at home with booze, and they're doing it right).
That seems like the reason why only some beverages are OK to order. Most restaurants endeavor to foist a $15 bottomless mimosa or bloody mary on its patrons. Again, this is the height of conspicuous decadence, and it's alienating. The restaurants want you to binge-drink a silly cocktail that is easy to make in bulk. I’ve seen people try to order a beer at brunch, and the response from the wait staff is akin to telling a date your favorite movie is Triumph of the Will and you love ball torture. Let me order something cheap without my waiter throwing shade in my general direction.
The Music Choices Are Shameful
Brunch became popular as a pseudo-meal because it was relaxing. You can eat brunch whenever you want, and you can do it outdoors in shorts and flip-flops (a.k.a "LA formal wear"). The music should reflect that lackadaisical tone, and it shouldn't get in the way of you actually having a conversation.
Most brunch places in LA don’t adhere to this simple rule, and instead choose to assert their musical choices as though the restaurant were a side stage at Coachella. The irony of playing old 2 Pac songs during the whitest meal known to man is lost on everyone but me. Either I get the band pictured above playing Gene Krupa's greatest hits or I walk.
The Food is a Total Afterthought
Oh, have you forgotten about eating? By now, most brunchers have forgotten that they’re actually participating in a meal and not a Girls Gone Wild video shoot on Bourbon Street. What does one order? Does it even fucking matter? Food is food. If you’re drunk enough, sucking on a plastic bag full of silver dollars might satisfy your hunger. Eggs, bacon, and hollandaise sauce are almost a bonus. Also, eating too much might get in the way of the peacocking that has taken over brunch culture. The "brunch spot as outdoor nightclub" phenomenon will always keep a certain element of the population at bay. The concept of eating being secondary to being seen near food isn't relatable or egalitarian at all. It's alien to just about everyone.
That's why my most important suggestion is to ban fedoras, gladiator sandals, aviator sunglasses, beanies during summertime, cutoff shorts where the pockets are visible, and oversized watches from brunch. I look forward to my Presidential Medal of Freedom. You can just mail it to the VICE LA office.
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