Some people love it. Some people hate it. How many people know where the meal we call “Sunday brunch” begin? The word “brunch” is clearly a mix of breakfast and lunch. At one point, when the meal was eaten close to lunch than breakfast, it would be referred to as “blunch.” But where did it begin?
On this point, food historians are not all in agreement. One school of thought has the meal dating back to the hint breakfasts on Sunday in England. These were ornate meals that included multiple courses. The foods that were served includes meats, eggs, pastries and fruit. These meals date back to the late 19th century. At the time the “Sunday Brunch” was to prepare the upper classes for a day of hunting in the English countryside.
Another school of thought says that the meal was not for the English hunt but from the large meals Catholics would have after they got home from church. They needed an extra amount of food because of the fasting they would do before going to mass in the morning.
Some historians do not believe Sunday brunch started in England at all. They speculate that the meal became a tradition in New York City. The town has a large number of eateries that offer so many dishes that we now associate with the gathering such as bagels with lox, frittatas and the classic brunch entree, Eggs Benedict.
There is some evidence from the origins of the word itself that suggests that England was the birthplace of the Sunday brunch and was, indeed, for the Sunday hunt. In 1895, British writer, Guy Beringer published a piece in “Hunter’s Weekly” The article was called “Brunch: A Plea.” Beringer was not a fan of the big meal and he was calling for it to be changed to a lighter version.He wanted the brunch menu to feature much healthier items. He did like the idea of Sunday brunch, though. He said, “Brunch is cheerful, sociable and inciting. 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.”
The meal officially crossed the pond in the 1930s. The theory is that brunch first became a hit with Hollywood stars. They were known to criss cross the country, going from Los Angeles to Hollywood, on trains. These trains would go through Chicago where they stopped. This normally happened in time for them to get off the train and look for a place to eat. Sunday brunches were started there because few of the restaurants were open on Sunday. Hotel restaurants saw an opportunity to do a good business with these passing Hollywood actors and actresses so they began offering the meal.
In the post World War II time period, church attendance declined. People started looking for something else to do during that time and they turned to gather at Sunday Brunches. By this time, restaurants did open on Sunday so they started serving brunch specials as well. It is thought that this is when alcohol entered the picture. Restaurants began serving classic brunch cocktails such as Mimosas, Bellinis and Bloody Marys.
The meal continued to gain in popularity. The first brunch cookbooks were introduced in the 1960s. It expanded even further in the 1990s when people started go out to celebrate with brunch on Saturdays as well as Sundays.
Today, brunch is popular in certain parts of the country but not in others. While its popularity has been growing since 2004, it is the most popular on the coasts and in Chicago. Other parts of the country are coming around, it has not really taken hold in much of the south and midwest. Though it is enjoyed there on days like Easter and Mother’s Day. Some research shows it is most popular in Washington, DC, New York, Massachusetts and Maryland, Illinois and Pennsylvania.
Despite its popularity in the places where it served, one group of people who have not warmed to the meal are the people have to prepare it. Chefs are not fans of the meal. This is most likely because many of them work late into the night on Saturday night and then go out even later.