Brunch is a late morning meal between breakfast and lunch, as a replacement to both meals, usually eaten when one rises too late to eat breakfast, or as a specially-planned meal. The term is a portmanteau of breakfast and lunch. It originated in the USA , unlike Tiffin . Brunch can be served after a morning event or prior to an afternoon one, such as a wedding or sporting event. It is usually a more relaxed meal than breakfast or lunch, and considered appropriate for informal celebrations. A Simpsons episode (7G11) famously described brunch this way: "It's not quite breakfast, it's not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end."
Some restaurants and hotels serve brunch, especially on weekends and holidays. Such brunches are often serve-yourself buffets, but menu-ordered meals may be available instead of, or with, the buffet. The meal usually involves standard breakfast foods such as eggs, pancakes, sausages, bacon, ham, fruits, pastries, and the like. However, it can include almost any other type of food served throughout the day. Buffets may have large roasts of meat or poultry, cold seafood like shrimp and smoked fish, salads, soups, vegetable dishes, many types of breadstuffs, and desserts of all sorts.
The dim sum brunch is a popular meal in Chinese restaurants world-wide. It consists of a wide variety of stuffed bao (buns), dumplings, and other savory or sweet food items which have been steamed, deep-fried, or baked. Customers select what they want from passing carts, as the kitchen continuously produces and sends out more freshly prepared dishes.
Brunch Culture and Marketing
Brunch is often marketed as a premium meal, and there is a cult-like following of brunch fans who enthusiastically support its premium pricing. Restaurants that cater to the brunch subculture may offer brunch as late as 5 p.m. on weekends, though cutoff times between 2 and 3 p.m. are more common.
The identifying characteristics of brunch may prove elusive to a newbie. For example: The all-inclusive nature of a buffet undeniably combines breakfast and lunch elements; but purveyors of menu-based brunch, in which individual dishes are often identical to those served at breakfast or lunch, face a different challenge—how to distinguish their menus from any run-of-the-mill pancake house. Inspired by this dilemma, a brunch humorist has noted that "brunch is a meal that costs as much as breakfast and lunch combined."
Both the brunch purveyor and the pancake house may offer separate dishes of a plate of eggs and a grilled cheese sandwich. To the pancake house this is simply a normal, non-premium state of affairs, so the brunch purveyor must take action to support the premium pricing and the brunch identity. Marketing techniques employed by brunch purveyors include but are not limited to:
- Simply calling it "brunch" (this alone seems to sway some consumers).
- Use of trendy decor and fashionable dress code for staff.
- Align restaurant with a food movement, such as Organic or Slow Food.
- Introduce eccentric changes to a dish, such as replacing the turkey in a california club sandwich with an egg, or adding spinach to eggs Benedict.
- Replace pancake syrup with cream-based sauces and fruit or chocolate drizzles that are normally reserved for the restaurant's desserts.
- Offer an egg dish such as migas or quiche which is outside the restaurant's normal range of specialties, thus adding exotic flair.
- When applicable, leverage restaurant's status as Michelin or Zagat rated to support brunch mystique.
- Use pancake flavors that go beyond the common fruit varieties, such as gingerbread, pumpkin, and buckwheat.
In the end, the brunches which will appear most distinct to a brunch outsider are those served at restaurants that are slightly eccentric or premium to begin with, which is to say that you can't repurpose the cream and chocolate drizzles from your gourmet desserts to your pancakes if you don't have gourmet desserts to begin with.