Michael Musto has ruffled many feathers in his 24 year stint as gossip columnist for the Village Voice, but it never really hit home for me. Until now.
In a recent interview with the New York Times, Musto shed some light on his Sunday routine, which most certainly does not include brunch. In fact the columnist went so far as to say that he hates brunch. These are his words:
I hate brunch. I hate hearing the word “brunch.” It was this trendy construct that people decided to buy into. And are still buying into. I manage with a bagel and coffee and can wait until lunch, not bogus three-egg omelets.
As someone who holds brunch near and dear to my heart, I’d have to disagree with Musto on all accounts except that people are still buying into brunch. And for good reason.
Brunch is not a trendy construct. Its origins date back to the mid 1890’s where it was, not surprisingly, student slang for the meal you’d eat after sleeping in until the early afternoon. Over time, restaurants smartly adapted by offering breakfast foods well into lunch hours to accommodate this new crowd of patrons.
Additionally, brunch is not simply a meal that you settle for because you can’t “wait until lunch.” By definition it’s a combination of breakfast and lunch, often eaten during lunch hours, when breakfast has not yet been eaten. Most brunchers wouldn’t have to “manage with a bagel and coffee” to make it to lunch because they’re not even awake early enough to consider that option.
Musto definitely knows that feeling since he “spent the entire 1980s waking up at noon.” For all we know he could be a reformed bruncher, but refuses to use the word because of its “trendy” implications. What seems more likely is that he hates hot breakfasts like Eggs Benedict, pancakes and those “bogus three-egg omelets.” Perhaps he hates them so much that he only ate “lunch” for the better part of a decade.
The act of brunching, or enjoying a leisurely midday meal with family and friends, is certainly not lost on Musto. It is inline with his concept of Sunday as an emotional “palate-cleansing day.” And like Musto’s typical Sunday lunch with his mother, the gathering of loved ones over a meal to relax and enjoy the weekend is the real meaning behind brunch.
As I’ve alluded to, the meal itself is just an evolution of the culinary arts. Some people prefer eggs or french toast since it’s their first meal of the day, while others prefer a sandwich or salad because it’s the afternoon, so restaurateurs have adapted appropriately. Not the other way around.
Many people prefer to stay home on a lazy Sunday to cook their own meals with their families. Are they not allowed to brunch with a three egg omelet?
Musto is so fixated on the word “brunch” and it’s construction that he misses the point entirely on what brunch is all about. Or maybe he gets it and just chooses to be combative. Either way, he relishes the fact that he’s in a minority and loves to see sparks fly no matter the topic or target. The irony in all of this is that he’d probably be a great person to brunch with.