I have no strong emotional connection to the meal. Brunch is just coincidentally a good time for me to share a food thing with people I care about.
But I feel like brunch brings out the worst in people- the guests, the front of house and back of house. It’s a nightmare of a shift and many people know this, inside and outside of the industry.
I feel it’s negative radiation wash over me the second I walk in the door and I think that we are the only ones that deserve to be here. Everyone else is here so they can be the worst version of themselves with impunity and torment a captive service staff. Everywhere guests are getting huffy because they have to wait, servers are pouring coffee into orange juice on accident because they might still be drunk. Stuff is getting overcooked, people are ordering drinks by snapping their fingers at servers and everyone is insane with rage and dying from fatigue. The whole room is about to blow. I already struggle to relax in bars and restaurants, but this is another level. I am a dog on the fourth of July. Everything is exploding around me and I am shaking, trying to remain calm and act normal. Just act normal!
The freewheeling hysterical energy of brunch turns me against my fellow man so fast I feel like I’m going to grow horns and bite someone. Brunch is one of those microcosms of humanity that might make an alien race want to exterminate us. I wouldn’t blame them. I’m sitting down to brunch; I’m part of the problem.
Don’t get me started on the roving band. I can feel them, stalking us as they slink through the restaurant like jungle cats inching toward us in the underbrush, ready to sing happy birthday. They know we don’t want the attention, and it makes them hungrier to annihilate our sense of comfort. A predator will always lust for the chase- so too does my refusal to make eye contact with the band excite them to come play a song just for me. It looks cool when they’re serenading someone else’s table. But when I can feel them approaching my table my brain dumps buckets of fight or flight chemicals into my mind and I’m breathing hard and sweating profusely, on the verge of a heart attack. I suppose I could just sternly be like please do not play music at my table for the love of fuck I am so tired and I will puke blood on you if you make me the center of attention. But I can’t say that. They’re on us now, they’re asking if it’s a special occasion and I’m like somehow we’re still alive so we’re celebrating. I don’t protest because they’re in the service industry too. They are also hustling, and I have to respect that. Tip them. If I think about it critically, I’m pretty sure plenty of people see me walking to the table and think not this fucking guy. I can pick my own wine, nerd.
Then I sit down and remember something important: it’s noon and I can start drinking immediately. I can, and will order many different drinks. Mimosas are for children- I would like an absinthe frappe. I would like coffee with Romepope. I would like a Berliner Weisse with fruit liqueur in it. I would like more coffee but this time in milkshake form. I would like a bottle of Huet sparkling Vouvray. I would like a Tom Collins with a float of Chartreuse. I would like an Orval out of an Orval glass (I want to live in the perfect, airy foam). I want a glass of cask strength whisky neat because I woke up thirty minutes ago and I still hate myself. I would like a Michelada, with a shrimp in it if that option is available. I would like a grasshopper with Branca Menta. I would like a bottle of preposterously cold Keller Limestone Kabinett Riesling. I would like a Ramos gin fizz and I would like a Reissdorf Kolsch to drink while you shake it. I want chicory coffee. I want shots of Strega for us and everyone sitting at least 10 feet around us. I want a mango lassi.
I want Toki highballs and I would like you to make sure we never run out of them for even a second. I would like a bloody mary with Tapatio 110 tequila in it and a gunpowder rim. I would like a watermelon full of unpasteurized sake. I would like a shot of Laurent Cazottes Pear Eau-de-Vie. I want Guy Breton Morgon in a magnum and I want it on ice- yes- I want all the wine we drink during this meal to be cold, and I want it served in Zalto burgundy stems. I un-sarcastically desire a Harvey Wallbanger with fresh squeezed, fluffy orange juice. I would like an Underberg and a straw. I would like a glass of Vichy Catalan with a slice of exotic fruit in it (very exotic, I’m talking rambutans n’ shit). I’m sorry about what I said about mimosas earlier- I’d like a mimosa but please throw a splash of herbsaint in it, we’re not cowards here. I want a bourbon milk punch. I want a glass of chilled Rare Wine Co Sercial Madeira. I want a kombucha but like, pour some gin in it? I want a chocolate egg cream. I want Tempier Bandol rose. Fino En Rama from Montilla-Moriles. A flagon of Cà phê sữa đá. Brandy Alexanders. Cantillon gueuze. Imperial Dragonwell green tea. D’Esperance Armagnac. And a Topo Chico.
I am prepared to spend all of my money.
Before I know it, I am peering through a joyful forest of beverages on the table, and I feel alive. I feel restored by ordering alcohol like a child. This is brunch; I can do whatever I want. I can take my pants off. I can pick up babies, toss them 30 feet in the air and catch them- they will love it. I can run on water. I can step on the white tiles that I know to be lava.
I am literally invincible.
And the food! Brunch food cuts all the crap and answers the pressing question- how much would you like of whatever you want? I can’t eat cake for lunch without looking crazy, but I can eat French toast at brunch and nobody feels like they have to call protective services on my pancreas. I can eat French toast as simply a side accompaniment to a plate that is brown-pink with four types of animal proteins and fried food slung across it. I personally aim for my main brunch course to be mostly brown in color. The more vibrant shades should come from alcohol, which by the final savory dish I’ve ideally consumed much of.
To my knowledge only Cuchara, Hugo’s, and Caracol serve hot chocolate and churros at brunch. This is a travesty: hot chocolate and Churro’s should be served at every meal, by every restaurant. My life is ruined every time I’m at a brunch that has decided to cruelly omit churros from my Sunday afternoon bacchanal. By the time I’ve learned that Churros are not an option, my id is already completely on fire and I’m considering breaking into the chef’s house at night with a machete. Sitting on the foot of their bed and waking them up by hissing something reasonable like what gives you the fucking right to deny me churros.
But seriously, like Pete Wells’ brilliant treatise on Thanksgiving, the most important ingredient at brunch, is excess. So fuck it, order an ounce of caviar to smear on your waffle. Order a whole lobe of foie gras. You get that cheesecake milkshake, and you pour some Elijah Craig 18 year in it. Because you could be dead tomorrow. You are here, right now, at brunch and you need to make everyone jealous of how hard you live. You need to take a fucking stand against the rigamarole of this world. You need to kiss madness on the mouth and laugh in the face of death because the time is now. It is brunch.
I talk a lot of shit about it, but the vulgar hedonism of brunch wins me over every time. I leave the establishment tipsy, sluggish with food, marching in a straight line towards the nearest couch. There, I will die. I will sink into a Mariana trench of satisfaction, deeper than the deepest K-hole. I will wrap myself in my comforter and forget about how bad I am being in charge of something. I will forget every dumbass thing I’ve ever said to a beautiful woman. I will forget every time I jacked up a wine pairing and it actually got served to a guest. I will for a brief moment, stop comparing myself to everyone and everything. I will turn off the giant, glowing doomsday device that hums ominously in my basement to save for another day. I will not open the gateway to hell, not today.
I will just exist. I will be a peaceful, warm little chicken tender wrapped in very soft Italian blankets. I have no idea what happens after this moment. I never do.