For generations, the three meal a day structure has been the norm. In fact, most people alive can remember the health education in schools and on television exhorting the value of a good breakfast. Don’t skip breakfast was the advice of the day for at least the last two generations. Despite this, we have all heard of brunch. An evolved word developed from the blending of breakfast and lunch.
The birth of the term and the actual concept itself continues to be debated. The first time the term was placed in print took place in 1895, in a publication called the “Hunters Weekly”. Brunch is therefore not as new a concept as we’d like to believe. The difference is that with new lifestyle habits emerging in a tech-driven world, brunch has become popular. Evidence to support this can be found in the “Brunch menus” that are popping up all over Europe and the US.
More has changed about the way we live in the last 100 years, than in the previous millennium. Lifestyle evolution is happening so quickly that more global lifestyle changes have taken place over the last 25 years than in the preceding century. This avalanche of change has also visibly changed the way that we eat.
The structure of our meals, as well as the content of our meals, have changed. Portion sizes and the social nature of mealtime has morphed too. All these factors have contributed to the emergence and evolution of Brunch.
Brunch isn’t quite breakfast and it isn’t quite lunch either. Its noveau image makes it appealing to those that find themselves in the midst of new developing culture. With changes in lifestyle and eating habits, so changes in overall culture take place too.
Timing is crucial
Our busy lifestyles have meant changes that influence how we eat. Many of us live in commuter towns that mean it can take an hour or two to get into work in the morning. The idea of 9 to 5 working is no longer the norm. Working days typically start much earlier or much later. Developments in working habits have had a large influence on when and where we eat. So, Brunch has also developed into a mealtime of convenience.
To get a good night’s rest and to get into work on time, there simply is not enough time to indulge in a traditional morning meal. Therefore, many office commuters have converted their 11 a.m. tea break into a mealtime. When the first meal of the day would have been breakfast, the demanding nature of their lives has now turned it into brunch.
Conversely, for many shift workers brunch is effectively their last meal of the day. Those that come of late night nursing shifts, factory workers and even law enforcement and call centre operators all have had their routines inverted by 21stcentury living. Knocking off at 8 am and then having to deal with the demands of daylight existence too, often means that they are only ready for a meal between 10 and 11 am. Enter the brunch brigade.
Brunch is a social experience
The timing of brunch has turned it into a social experience for most that partake of its delights. Its squeezed between work sessions, after work and before the time for sleep or even for those on a holiday for whom breakfast was way too early to get out of bed for. Brunch is rarely consumed at home. Workers, whether in an office or on a daytime factory shift will often take their breaks together to enjoy this “inbetweener” meal. It becomes an opportunity to share with each other every other aspect of their lives. The diverse nature of the meal means it can suit any situation for just about anyone. For some people, brunch is the default meal for coming together of friends or family. Relatives may use it as the get-together meal when they have to travel above average distances to meet up and spend time together.
There are no rules
Perhaps one of the core reasons why its so popular is that it has evolved with very few rules. We have developed very stereotypical ideas of what foods constitute a breakfast, lunch or dinner. But brunch is very different. Brunch can be whatever you make it to be. Some people will treat it as a late breakfast. Others as an early lunch. Some have early day celebrations serving alcohol because wedding brunches have become popular too. Brunch can be solo, or it can be a party. A family meal, a gathering of friends or a routine act of sustenance.
The bottom line is that the only rule for brunch is that it takes place sometime between breakfast and lunch.
Top spots for Brunch in Amsterdam here