The tantalizing aromas of omelets and apple muffins, chicken and waffles, pancakes and seafood, French toast and fresh fruit waft through many restaurants and homes on weekends. It's brunch time, that wonderful, indulgent meal that comforts and cheers when you're too relaxed for an eat-and-run breakfast and too at ease for a formal lunch. Add a glass of champagne and a few good friends, and we have all the pleasures that brunch--the first and only new meal of the 20th century--can give.
Brunch, as a word, was probably coined in Great Britain around 1900. Within 30 years, it had crossed the Atlantic Ocean to the United States, where brunch, as a meal, began to be enjoyed privately in a few homes. It went public on April 10, 1941, when the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City advertised the first restaurant brunch at $1 per person to be served from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Since then, its popularity has gone in one direction only--up. And its serving hours have gotten longer--from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Brunch is a natural bridge for churchgoers after service, as well as morning joggers ready to eat a leisurely meal following a strenuous workout. And those who work long hours under intense pressure during the week relish the easy spirit this two-meals-in-one offers as a way to spend a Sunday.
Brunch foods are as varied and all-inclusive as the idea of brunch itself. Egg-based dishes, however, are the backbone of most brunch menus: omelets with smoked turkey or pheasant; poached eggs on a baked potato stuffed with chopped ham and chives; mint frittata; crabmeat quiche, lobster souffle; and French toast with a touch of Grand Marnier added to the batter. Dishes without eggs include oyster casserole; marinated shrimp and chicken; apple pancakes; seafood en brochette; and grillades of pounded veal round with grits and green peppers and Creole sauce.
Brunch foods are light, and so are the drinks...