Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Silent Majority?

Check out a must-read column from Brooklyn Paper writer Mike McLaughlin last September here. McLaughlin pulls no punches in his indictment of the dread meal:
The venerable weekend tradition is a well-oiled gastronomic sham, a frivolous use of the midday hours and a swindle that preys upon people in relationships.
One of the most persuasive clues that something is deeply wrong with brunch culture, McLaughlin doesn't fail to get input from the chefs who must choose whether they will participate in an activity they know in their hearts is deeply wrong:
Restaurant pros have been admitting that brunch is an ugly scene at least since celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain took a bite out of it in his memoir “Kitchen Confidential,” pointing out that the menu is often repackaged leftovers prepared by the least skillful cooks and sold for jacked-up prices.

Yet there’s no shortage of my neighbors diving into the fray.

“Brunch is a little bit like a war,” said Berton Schaeffer, a manager at Blue Ribbon Brooklyn on Fifth Avenue, which abandoned my least-favorite meal in favor of late-night dining. “I see the lines outside and the craziness to get into the good places. It’s a nightmare."
That's right: WAR. For breakfast?!?!

McLaughlin's actions haven't gone unnoticed by the brunch cops, though. Because in Brooklyn, while you can get high on the street with impunity, go for years without holding a real job, and more or less disobey any traffic laws you like, you better not say an ill word about brunch:
My resistance to the beloved, artery-clogging, weekend-only gorging and self-inflicted fleecing openly rattled some of my friends. Am I losing my faith in all the modern institutions that hold society, or at least Brooklyn, together in one seamless piece? “Next thing you know, you’ll stop shopping at the farmer’s market and watching independent movies,” one friend fretted. What does she think comes after that in my unraveling? A return to the suburbs? NRA membership? The horror.
See how the brunch cops play their insidious game? They know that their bizarre preference for uncomfortable low value social interaction over gastrointestinal comfort and productive activity would never be accepted on its own terms. So suddenly brunch is associated with all sorts of things that people really want to do. Those who would cry out against this new world order, an order they never asked for, are branded anti-social and anti-breakfast.

McLaughlin closes with a prayer for this silent majority, for the beleaguered eaters all around us who are neither anti-social nor anti-breakfast, but simply, anti-brunch:
Yet my declaration to avoid brunch has uncovered an unexpected number of sympathizers and not just among other eligible bachelors. The evidence is anecdotal, but there’s a huge subculture of Brooklynities turned off by brunching. The predictable menus bore people, the deviation from the normal three-meals-a-day schedule is disorienting and it’s almost impossible to get anything done pre- and post-brunch, members of the silent majority told me.
Patience, friends. Your time is at hand.

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