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MySundayBrunch.com, based in Washington DC since 2003, offers information on some of the longest running Sunday brunches in the Washington DC area. We strive to bring you the most up to date information and always appreciate your feedback at: sargologo@gmail.com

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History of Brunches


Culinary evidence confirms well-supplied leisurely enjoyed meals have been the privilege of the wealthy and noble classes since the beginning of civilization. Dining times, order of service, length of meals, and proper social etiquette vary with period and culture but one point remains constant: only the very rich could afford to spend extended time and expense indulging themselves in the pleasures of food.

According to the food historians, brunch is a turn of the 19th/20th century tradition originating in Britain. It is generally founded on the same principles of leisured privilege That may explain the American popular tradition of Mother's day Brunch . What better way to show mom how much she means to the family than by elevating her status to this elite level? It's as much about the food as it is about the time it takes to enjoy the meal.

"Brunch...a portmanteau word combining 'breakfast' with 'lunch' for a meal taken late in the morning or just around noon. According to the English magazine Punch (August 1, 1896), brunch was 'introduced...last year by Mr. Guy Beringer, in the now defunct Hunter's Weekly, and indicating a combined breakfast and lunch, probably one taken just after arriving home from hunting. The practice of having brunch did not really take hold in the United States until the 1930s, but today it is part of many hotel and restaurant manus on weekends..."
---Encyclopedia of American Food and Drink, John F. Mariani [Lebhar-Friedman:New York] 1999 (p. 44)

"Credit for the word brunch, however, belongs elsewhere. The 1972 supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary says it first appeared in Hunter's Weekly in 1895. According to the Aug. 1, 1896, issue of the magazine Punch: ''To be fashionable nowadays we must 'brunch'. Truly an excellent portmanteau word, introduced, by the way, last year, by Mr. Guy Beringer, in the now defunct Hunter's Weekly, and indicating a combined breakfast and lunch.'' The Oxford dictionary says the word is university slang. Evan Jones, author of ''American Food: The Gastronomic Story,'' says he first became aware of brunch at the famous Pump Room in Chicago's Ambassador Hotel in 1933. In the days before jet travel made bicoastal living a matter of hours each way, movie stars with business on both coasts would stop between trains in Chicago on their way across the continent. On Sunday stopovers they brunched at the Pump Room. Mr. Jones says it was as much a scene as lunch at the Four Seasons is today. "
---DE GUSTIBUS; TO QUASH LUPPER, START WITH BRUNCH,The New York Times, December 3, 1983, Section 1; Page 48, Column 5; Style Desk

"As a family became richer the breakfast grew, almost as a reflection of the power and afflucence of the British Empire itself. As the map of the world glowed pink, the sideboard in the morning room began to be laden with extra dishes. It already had a choice of cold cuts, comprised of sliced meats, and perhaps even a whole leg of ham or tongue...it was a short step to dipping chicken or pheasant legs in mustard and heating them up in the oven...A Breakfast Book of 1865, suggesting a huge number of other dishes...brawn, pickled pork, curres and devilled bones, fried potatoes, pork chops, veal cutlets, bloaters and anchovies. As well as this, the cooke could make us pdishes like ham toast, croquettes, hashed game and rissoles...Then there were savoury puddings, savoury pies, galantines and meat in jelly...Major L., who published Breakfasts, Luncheons, and Ball Suppers in 1887, divides breakfast into four types: the family breakfast; the dejeuner a la fourchette, where the items were introduced in courses similar to dinner; a cold collations (which must produce an ornamental effect); and the amigu which is an entertainment of a very heterogenous character, having the resemblance to a dinner, only that everything is placed on the table at once; releves, soup, vegetables, and hot entremets are held to be ineligeble...These are breakfasts designed for the weekend house party; Major L. suggests that they should contain a variety of items and he repeats much of what we hav heard before: he thinks that sportsmen can eat whatevery they like, but he is concerned that ladies should be more abstemious though he admits that they rarely eat meat for breakfast'. By meat he means roasts and cutlets becuase then he goes on to list what ladies may eat; this includes ham, bacon, chicken, kidneys, roast larks, broiled duckings and devilled turkey...Such opulence and conspicious consumption of luxuries is reminscent of Renaissance princes, medieval kings and Roman emperors."
---British Food: An Extraordinary Thousand Years of History, Colin Spencer [Columbia University Press:New York] 2002 (p. 260-1)

"Although the meal itself came to glory in the United States, the word is a British invention, coined in 1895 by Guy Beringer in a visionary article titled "Brunch: A Plea." Instead of England's early Sunday dinner, a postchurch ordeal of heavy meats and savory pies, the author wrote, why not a new meal, served around noon, that starts with tea or coffee, marmalade and other breakfast fixtures before moving along to the heavier fare? By eliminating the need to get up early on Sunday, brunch would make life brighter for Saturday-night carousers. It would promote human happiness in other ways as well. "Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting," Beringer wrote. "It is talk-compelling. It puts you in a good temper, it makes you satisfied with yourself and your fellow beings, it sweeps away the worries and cobwebs of the week.""
--- At Brunch, The More Bizarre The Better , The New York Times , July 8, 1998, Section F; Page 1; Column 4; Dining In, Dining Out/Style Desk


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