Note: Alissa Goudswaard is now Alissa Anderson. We send her our wedding congratulations!
For more explanation of this month’s theme, “millennials in thirty things,” check out this post.
What is absolutely and unquestionably the most important meal in existence? That’s right: brunch*. It’s great because you can have delicious breakfast foods, but also heartier dishes that you like, and you can have coffee or you can have booze (or, if you want to go crazy, both).
I might be a little partial—I got married a little under three weeks ago, and we had a brunch reception. This was great because I got to have biscuits and gravy and my spouse still got to have carved meat. Add to that a crêpe cake (you guys, this is some amazing stuff) and mimosas, and you’ve got a pretty kickass meal, even if I do say so myself.
Immediately after said wedding, we moved to New York City, where brunch, it seems, is king. If I had $10 for every place just in my little neighborhood that offers a weekend brunch…then, well, I could better afford said brunch. And since it seems New Yorkers like to sleep late, brunch is still happening after an 11 a.m. church service gets out, which is really good in light of the whole I’m-in-seminary thing.
I think there’s something about food in general that reaches out to people. Food is important to all generations—everyone needs to eat—and in that way it can bring generations together, but I somehow feel like my generation is working out a unique way of relating to food. Food, generally, is an important object: it is the subject of innumerable Instagram photos, tweets, and Facebook posts. Home-cooked meals are photographed accomplishments; restaurant visits are events that must be recorded (and carefully curated, of course, so as to present the most desirable image of oneself).
Trendy restaurants are good—barbecue is in right now. And somehow, macaroons still are as well. Farm-to-table (or “farm-to-hipster” as the restaurant on my corner claims to be) gets a thumbs-up. Restaurants are as carefully curated as the social media feeds they end up in.
I think a large part of this passion for food has to do with a longing for community. Life as a twenty-something can be lonely, as we’re uprooting and moving farther from home and family and friends, and many are waiting longer to marry and raise children (or not doing so at all). Cut school and church out of the picture for a lot of people, and all the communities that were once there for the taking are gone. Food, though, is a powerful community-builder. Something happens when you share a table with friends or strangers (which, I would argue, is one of the things that is so powerful about the Eucharist, and part of what draws me towards the crazy world of Episcopal priesthood).
To return specifically to brunch: brunch seems to me to be inherently social. While there’s plenty to be said for enjoying a meal on one’s own (and, tangentially, I love hearing what people eat when they eat alone, so feel free to comment about that, too!), brunch is not (at least not typically) this sort of meal. It’s an event meal, something you share with people you like to spend time with.
Which brings me to my next point: brunch takes time. Why do you think it’s a weekend thing? Weekday breakfasts are often quick-and-dirty affairs for me (or consist only of coffee, which is sort of sad, even while covering the essentials). Brunch implies slowing down, lingering over food with friends or family. It’s relaxed, unhurried. Everything the rest of the week, for many of us, is not. The rest of the week may be spent at a job that requires extra-long hours because you’re new, or you’re young, or it was the only job you could find and you’ll work as many hours as needed to keep it. Combine that with FOMO and any sort of sweet hobby, and you’ll be lucky to get a full night of sleep. Maybe what makes brunch so appealing, then, is that its very nature is to be a slow and leisurely break from routine.
So why is brunch so great? It makes us look cool, it brings us together, it slows us down…
Oh yeah, and it’s delicious.
*While brunch is not really an object, and its thinginess and thus its fit with this month’s theme are tenuous, it is something of great importance to my millennial sisters and brothers.
Alissa Goudswaard Anderson (’10) lives with her husband Josh in New York City, where she is earning her Master of Divinity at General Theological Seminary. Alissa enjoys private kitchen dance parties, big Midwestern thunderstorms, and perusing other peoples’ bookshelves. For more, find her online at www.episcotheque.wordpress.com or tweet her @episcotheque.